Kavalan (Yuan Shan Distillery)

Kavalan whisky conquered the whisky world within a few years. It is produced in Yuan Shan Distillery in northeast Taiwan, about an hour from the capital, Taipei.

Information about the Distillery
105 Bottles
Taiwan
121.691944 24.713722
Active
4 x 0 l
http://www.kavalanwhisky.com/
Average tasting notes Tasting Notes
Calculated from 119 Tasting Notes
i
Nosing
Sweet:
Fruit:
Vanilla:
Sherry:
Spices:
Tropical Fruit:
Honey:
Herbs:
Floral:
Oak:
Peat Smoke:
Caramel:
Dried Fruit:
Chocolate:
Raisin:
Pepper:
Coconut:
Alcohol:
Herb:
Coffee:
Orange:
Melon:
Kiwi:
Zitrus:
Nuts:
Banana:
Pear:
Malt:
Plum:
Heather:
Dark Chocolate:
Leather:
Cinnamon:
Berries:
Pineapple:
Lemon:
Grape:
Cherry:
Fig:
Clove:
Mint:
Apple:
Barley:
Hay:
Green Apple:
Date:
Hazelnut:
Wheat:
Bonfire Smoke:
Peach:
Chili:
Cake:
Black Currant:
Tasting
Sweet:
Spices:
Fruit:
Oak:
Sherry:
Vanilla:
Nuts:
Herb:
Oil:
Chocolate:
Malt:
Grape:
Caramel:
Raisin:
Pepper:
Peat Smoke:
Honey:
Cinnamon:
Herbs:
Plum:
Alcohol:
Coffee:
Apple:
Dark Chocolate:
Tropical Fruit:
Dried Fruit:
Heather:
Floral:
Pear:
Zitrus:
Pineapple:
Orange:
Leather:
Date:
Cherry:
Banana:
Green Apple:
Blackberry:
Ginger:
Fig:
Chili:
Berries:
Grass:
Melon:
Grapefruit:
Clove:
Cake:
Finish
Oak:
Sweet:
Fruit:
Sherry:
Spices:
Malt:
Herb:
Coffee:
Nuts:
Chili:
Dried Fruit:
Chocolate:
Peat Smoke:
Raisin:
Tropical Fruit:
Vanilla:
Dark Chocolate:
Pineapple:
Banana:
Tobacco:
Oil:
Cinnamon:
Alcohol:
Zitrus:
Berries:
Grape:
Orange:
Heather:
Leather:
Pepper:
Nutmeg:
Bonfire Smoke:
Pear:
Grapefruit:
Fig:
Honey:
Almonds:
Clove:
Herbs:
Details about the Distillery

The Whisky

Like most Asian whiskies, Kavalan needs less time to mature and develop similarly deep aromas than Scotch, Irish or other European whiskies due to the climatic conditions. Kavalan's international success and critical acclaim is not least due to the ability and craft of master blender Ian Chang and the expert advice of whisky consultant Dr Jim Swan.  

The first Kavalan bottlings were released in 2008 and are still the standards and bestsellers of the distillery: Kavalan Classic and King Car Conductor are batched from whiskies from different cask types and have a harmonious aroma profile of exotic fruits, cherries, apples, honey, vanilla, cereals and oak. Especially in Asia these bottlings are very popular, and the standard range was later supplemented by the Concertmaster with a port finish or the Podium made from virgin American oak and refill Kavalan casks.

The King Car Group had its breakthrough, however, with the international export to Europe, South Africa and the USA and with the success of the Solist series, which features cask strength single cask bottlings that have won many international awards. Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon and Sherry were he first bottlings. Meanwhile Fino, Vinho Barrique, Amontillado and lately Peaty Cask (matured in used casks from Islay) have been added to the series. Kavalan Vinho Barrique was elected Best Single Malt Worldwide at the 2015 World Whisky Awards. In 2016, Solist Amontillado Sherry won the WWA award of Best Single Cask Malt Whisky.

Kavalan Whisky is bottled without an age statement since the short maturation periods of four or five years are below the usual standard of comparable whiskies, but the labels of the Solists state the serial number and cask types.

Kavalan Distillery Outside view
Kavalan Distillery

Production

Production numbers at Kavalan have skyrocketed: It used to be 1.5 million litres until 2015, but after the installation of new distillation equipment the annual production is now 4.5 million litres. The goal is to further double the capacity to 9 million litres through additional expansions by the end of 2016.

The Mashing

A semi-lauter mash tun with a capacity of 8 tons is operated day and night at Kavalan. A second mash tun will be added by the end of 2016.

The malt for Kavalan whisky isn't cultivated on Taiwan due to the climatic conditions, but is imported from Scotland and Finland. The location for Kavalan Distillery in Yilan County was chosen for the excellent water quality of the nearby Xue Shan mountain range.

The Fermentation

Fermentation takes place in eight closed stainless-steel tanks for 60 to 72 hours. Production will be increased by doubling the number of tanks to 16 by the end of 2016.

Pot Stills Kavalan
Pot Stills Kavalan

The Distillation

The King Car Group began with two copper pot stills (wash still: 12,000 litres, spirit still: 7,000 litres) from Scottish manufacturer Forsyths. Initially the cut was set at 78-72% of alcohol, but has meanwhile been set to 65-55% to allow for more feints for a more complex aroma profile. This middle cut runs for two to three hours.

In 2015 six pot stills were added; by the end of 2016 there will be 20 stills under operation at Kavalan.

Storage 

Kavalan has two giant, five-storeyed warehouses. Due to the danger of earthquakes, the stacked casks are bound together in small groups of 2x2 casks. Daytime temperatures in Taiwan are so high in summer that the upper storeys can reach 42°C (108°F), while the lower storeys only get 24°C (75°F). The average angels' share at Kavalan is 15%. Nights are cool, and the big temperature differences make the whisky mature two to three times as fast as in Scottish warehouses.

Most casks used for Kavalan whisky are made from American oak, but they also use fortified wine casks from Europe, mainly for the Solist bottlings.

Kavalan whisky is bottled on site, after it has been diluted with spring water from Yilan (except for the cask strength bottlings).

History

King Car Group was founded in in 1956 and today is one of the leading companies in the Taiwanese food industry, biotechnology and aquaculture. King Car has about 2,000 employees. Among the internationally known products are ready-to-drink coffee Mr. Brown and now also Kavalan whisky.

In 2005 the founder and owner of King Car, T.T. Lee, made his dream come true and built Yuan Shan Distillery. He named it after the traditional name of the region he chose as a location. He had been an ardent fan of whisky for a long time, but private distilleries were not allowed until Taiwan joined the World Trade Organisation and the governmental spirits monopoly fell in 2002. 

Lee hired whisky expert Dr Jim Swan to help with planning and building the distillery and for continuing consultation. Ian Chang, a trained chemist who went through an additional training as a master blender in Scotland, has been responsible for whisky development and the creative design of the Kavalan bottlings from the beginning. 

Thus King Car started building the new Kavalan distillery in April 2006, and already nine months later the production of Kavalan whisky began. In 2008 the first whisky was released, met with immediate interest and earned much praise and appreciation – first at home, but soon also internationally. The strongest markets for Kavalan beside Taiwan are now Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and China. Since 2012/2013, Kavalan has also been exporting a lot to other countries, with Europe, South Africa and the USA topping the list.

Visitor Centre

Adjacent to the Kavalan Distillery is an impressive visitor centre, which has won the title of Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year 2011 by Whisky Magazine. There are about one million visitors per year. 

Admission is free.

Opening hours: 
Monday - Friday: 09.00 a.m. - 06.00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 09.00 a.m. - 07.00 p.m.

Guided tours including a tasting are offered all day long without reservation. (Groups of 20 or more should book in advance via the form on the website.)  The last tour starts at 4.00 p.m. The tours at Kavalan cover all production steps and last about 70 minutes. 

Address:

326, Section 2, Yuan-shan Road

Yuan-Shan, Yi-Lan, Taiwan. 26444

Phone:

+886(0)3-922-9000#1104 

Chronological rating history

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