Established in 2005, Kavalan is Taiwan's first wheiskymaker and the nation's only family-owned whisky distillery. Kavalan takes the old name of Yilan County where it is located in northeastern Taiwan. Boasting pure water and fresh air, this part of the sub-tropical island provides the ideal environment for the production of whisky.
Kavalan Distillery is an entrepreneur's dream come true. Mr. Tien-Tsai Lee, the founder of King Car conglomerate had dreamed of producing a Taiwanese whisky, yet it was not until 2002, when Taiwan joined the WTO, that his goal could be achieved. The distillery brings a professional whisky R&D team together with a world-class master blender, Ian Chang, and a specialist - Dr. Jim Swan. Together they implement the highly specialised distilling and blending skills the King Car Group has cultivated for more than 30 years through beverage manufacturing and knowledge.
The fusion of world-class expertise and the artistry of the blender is to ensure that the silky smoothness and distinctive flavours of Kavalan single malt whisky can be appreciated globally.
Kavalan Classic Single Malt Whisky exemplifies the sheer quality of whisky that is diverse and complex. Fresh and clean, the spirit is rich with silky smoothness and hints of tropical fruits, mango in particular.
Kavalan’s water is drawn from the springs of Snow Mountain and Central Mountains, which are very pure, creamy and clean. That’s one of the reasons Kavalan Whisky tastes so good.
During germination the barley secretes the enzyme diastase which makes the starch in the barley soluble, thus preparing it for conversion into sugar. Throughout this period the barley must be turned at regular intervals to control the temperature and rate of germination.
The malt is crushed in a mill to expose the sugar. For example, before drinking coffee, you must grind the coffee beans. King Car Group has been making coffee for decades. They apply the same technique.
The mashing process is the extraction of sugar from the solid malts into liquid by the addition of hot water. The sugary water is called “wort.” It is essential to reduce the temperature of the wort before the next process. If too hot, the yeast will be destroyed before fermentation takes place.
Yeast is added to the wort, turning the sugar into alcohol as well as small amounts of flavour congener. At the Kavalan distillery, there are jacketed layers covering the outside of the washbacks. They are used to control the temperature. If the temperature is not monitored, it could harm the flavour that we want.
The double distillation method is applied in the Kavalan distillery. Usually the stills work in pairs. The first distillation is to separate the alcohol and water. The second is composed of three parts: the foreshots (the first spirit to come off the still), the heart, and the feints (the final spirit from the still). The best part of the heart is collected and filled into casks for maturation. Choosing casks is very important for the flavour of the whisky. However, without a quality new make (newly distilled whisky), quality whisky cannot be produced. Kavalan’s new make is very clean, which is one of the ways they make premium whisky.
Each of the two maturation warehouses are 5 storeys high. As Taiwan is hot, the spirits extract the flavour from the oak at a faster rate. Even at a young age, Kavalan whisky is more mature than others at a similar age.
Blending is the mixing of whiskies from different casks. When whiskies are judged by the master blender to be at their peak perfection, they are blended to produce whiskies with a consistent flavour.
When the whisky has reached the desired maturity, selected casks are emptied and Kavalan water is added to create just the right amount of alcohol by volume for certain expressions. Finally, the fully crafted single malt is bottled.
Kavalan Sherry Oak
A 2016 addition to Kavalan's core range, Sherry Oak uses the same casks that are normally reserved for the cask-strength Solist releases, but diluted to 46% using Kavalan spring water. Sweet and oily with notes of dried fruit, dark chocolate, pepper and raisins.