For those not familiar, Kavalan is Taiwan’s answer to the whisky world. While founded only in 2005, it is winning award after award – in 2014 alone over 100 awards! Master blender Ian Chang and the team take full advantage of Taiwan’s warmer climate to produce no age statement experiments, maturing in different casks and playing around with finishes.
Back in 2008, just three years after the distillery was constructed, Kavalan launched its first ‘Classic’ whisky. A year later in 2009, Concertmaster was released.
The bottle I shared with our Whisky Ladies was acquired in Taipei a few years ago. It was honestly a disappointment when first tried and was brought as a ‘base line’ before sampling the Solist.
- Colour – Light gold
- Nose – Initially a bit peculiar, like it was pretending to have peat but isn’t, then honey, sour, a bit citrusy, formaldehyde, some vanilla, followed by caramel and orange peel
- Palate – Smooth. Not horrible but sorta a whole lot of nothing, neutral, non-descript, innocuous, inoffensive
- Finish – Warm with some bitter orange peel
- Water? No need, already quite light and thin
- Comments – “Dare I say… insipid?” “Definitely NOT a concert or symphony of aromas or flavours!”
While overall not bad, it was not particularly memorable either. Clearly we struggled to discern specific elements on the palate. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad whisky at all. Just not one to make the heart sing… let alone a full blown concerto!
Here’s what the folks over at Kavalan have to say:
Using Portuguese ruby, tawny and vintage Port wine casks as the main flavour, Kavalan Concertmaster single malt whisky is the first matured in specially selected American oak cask and then finished in port barriques. The marrying in the barriques mellows the flavours and adds indefinable smoothness to the whisky. It is rich bodied with natural sweetness and complexity.
- Colour – Pleasant brownish red
- Nose – Tropical fruitiness with honey, vanilla, coconut and candy floss
- Palate – Rich bodied with natural sweetness and complexity
If you look today on the Kavalan website, you will no longer see Concertmaster prominently featured though it is still very much present. However there are rumours of its production being phased out. We have to say its absence would not be a great loss to the world of whisky. And if it means more attention on Solist and other experiments? Please! Please!
For the story on my initially acquiring and sampling this bottle from Taipei… read here.
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