It is no secret that I quite like some Japanese whiskies.
But what about Taiwan? For years there were rumblings about Taiwan also doing something special.
So you can imagine that when I had a work trip to Taipei years ago, I was terribly excited about the opportunity to snag something interesting.
It proved slightly tricky. Why?
- Limited time
- Limited communication
- Limited options
I did find a couple of stores with a decent selection of whiskies from everywhere BUT Taiwan. I could only find Concertmaster plus small samples of other Kavalan expressions – naturally at a wallet-pinching ‘full-retail’ price! I grabbed the samples and risked catching Kavalan’s Soloist or other expressions at the duty-free.
As luck would have it, after a few re-directions, I did find ONE little Taiwan whisky section with a rather bare range of Kavalan at the airport! Nope – no Soloist only Concertmaster that day.
For those not aware, the Soloist range is the one garnering the special attention – including the Soloist expression Vinho Barrique recently receiving the 2015 World Whiskies ‘Best Single Malt’ Award! However Concertmaster also has a goodly number of awards to its credit too.
So what about the Kavalan Concertmaster?
It is one of Kavalan’s entry-level single malt which is aged in American oak then finished in three port casks (Portuguese ruby, tawny and vintage) – hence the ‘concert’ of finishes.
And what did I find?
Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish 40%
- Colour – Burnished gold with a ruby glow
- Nose – Tropical fruits, coconut, honey sweet, tincture or a slightly medicinal quality when freshly opened that wafted away after time…
- Taste – Sweet almost overly fruity sweet, berry sweet, some dry coconut, then an undertone of bitterness, a little kopra
- Finish – Short and dry is the initial impression… pause and then noted a subtle remnant of coconut and port for a bit… just a bit
Now… here is where I must admit… when I first tried it, it was a disappointment. Especially after the excitement and effort… and certainly not for its price range.
I’ve tried it a few times since and my overall conclusion is that while it is enjoyable and certainly worth trying at least once, it doesn’t seem quite balanced to my palate.
Rather than a symphony of tastes, it is like the sweet violin strings are a little too discordantly brash without enough other instruments to bring depth and richness. This is like an unbalanced quartet masquerading as a symphony.
I honestly would have wondered what all the fuss was about with Kavalan had I not sampled from the Soloist range – much more interesting!
So while I do not regret buying a bottle, it isn’t one that I will run out to acquire again! For the money, there are other many more options to explore.
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