Kavalan is a Taiwanese whisky distillery that was founded in 2005 by Mr. Ting, Chairman of the King Car Group, which is known for its production of food and beverages, as well as its involvement in transportation and renewable energy. Located in Yilan County, Taiwan, Kavalan takes its name from the indigenous Kavalan people who have lived in the area for centuries. The distillery is known for using locally grown barley and water from the Snow Mountain and Central Mountain Range to produce its whiskies, which are aged in a variety of barrels in a hot and humid climate. It is worth noting that Kavalan whiskies are often bottled at a young age due to the rapid maturation process that is induced by Taiwan’s climate. But in this review, we will be tasting a 12-year-old Kavalan 2008 Conquête whisky that was selected by LMDW.
Kavalan 2008 Conquête for LMDW Review
This Kavalan whisky was distilled on December 24, 2008, and aged for 12 years in an Oloroso sherry butt (numbered S081224007). It was bottled on September 11, 2021, at cask strength (58.6% ABV) and was selected by La Maison Du Whisky for its Conquête collection and the French market. This cask has since sold out and the RRP was €175 a bottle.
Neat: The nose of this whisky is quite intense, with strong notes of rancio and wood. The wood notes are prominent, with oak, cedar, and sandalwood all present. There is also some umami, with hints of balsamic and fig vinegars and sweet soy sauce. Some nuttiness as well as we can find crushed almonds and hazelnuts. The sweetness is balanced by the savoury notes, with hints of quince jelly and caramel rounding out the aroma.
With water: Even with the addition of several drops of water, I did not notice any significant changes to the nose of this whisky. The intense, woody aroma remained unchanged.
Neat: The palate of this whisky is equally intense, with a thick and rich mouthfeel. The influence of the first fill oloroso cask is evident, with a drying effect on the palate. There are notes of red and dark fruit jams, dark caramel, raspberry vinegar, and balsamic vinegar. The woody and savoury notes from the nose are also present on the palate, with hints of leather, tobacco, and nuts. The cask is very active, adding a cherry liqueur character to the whisky.
With water: The mouthfeel becomes slightly more syrupy with the addition of water, and there may be a hint of additional spices, but overall the whisky does not change significantly from the neat tasting.
The finish of this whisky is long and lingering, with all of the flavours and aromas present on the nose and palate continuing into the finish. As the whisky fades, it begins to resemble an old cognac.
In my opinion, this whisky is a bit too much for my taste. While I appreciate the influence of the first fill cask and the rapid “aging” process that occurs in Taiwan’s tropical climate, the resulting flavours and aromas are a bit too extreme for my personal preference. I think I might be becoming less of a fan of “sherry bombs” than I used to be. That being said, I do think this Kavalan 2008 Conquête LMDW is very good, but it is a bit too much for me. It is more extreme than the Solist range and feels a bit “excessive” to me.