Whisky Advent Calendar 2015: Day 23

23 12 2015

Well, I’m officially on Christmas holidays from work…but not from this blog or my daily whisky spirit quest, which is now three days away from completion.  So close.  The Whisky Advent Calendar usually finishes with a flourish, and tonight did not disappoint in that regard, as we returned to Taiwan and a producer that’s quickly becoming a podium distillery for me, the world-renowned Kavalan.  Taiwan’s only distillery first showed up in the calendar on Day 5 with its superb cask strength ex-Bourbon bottling, a whisky so good that my father-in-law promptly (and quite properly) went out and grabbed the last bottle in the province after trying it.  That whisky was a pale transparent gold in colour.  This one, not so much.  Same cask strength series, same base spirit, likely a similar aging period (that is:  not that long a one, as Taiwan’s heat and humidity supercharges the maturation period and allows for maximum barrel character transfer in a minimal time window), but different aging vessels, as we go from Bourbon’s brightness to the colourful depths of Oloroso Sherry casks.  Oloroso is an oxidative style of sherry where the wine is aged with full exposure to oxygen for many years, giving it a deep tawny colour like fresh coffee, and that hue obviously sticks with the barrels, because tonight’s Kavalan cask strength (54%) Sherry Oak Single Malt was easily the darkest whisky yet, an amazing shadowy bronze.  It’s clearly darker than yesterday’s Balblair 1990, and that one aged in oak for 24 years; Kavalan’s only been in existence for 10, and I bet this malt only saw barrel for half that or less.  How crazy is that??


This whisky smells EXACTLY like fresh pancakes and maple syrup, almost to the extent that I don’t want to write another aroma note about it.  It’s eerie.  If I must expand, I would go with French Toast Crunch (Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s lesser-known cousin, which also smells like pancakes and maple syrup), cinnamon twists, cabane a sucre, raisins and mincemeat.  You will not be surprised after looking at this that it was hearty and warming on the palate, with mind-warping depth of flavour for a whisky so young.  There was a purity to it, like tasting French press coffee as compared to office coffeemaker coffee (particularly since it actually did taste like coffee), with warm accompanying notes like marzipan, salted caramel and walnuts mixed with toasty oak, elastic bands, fruitcake and suntan lotion.  The finish was extended and all Oloroso – deep, rich and sherried.  I would call this a value for $160, even though stylistically I may prefer the ex-Bourbon slightly; the margin between the two is razor thin for me.  Kavalan just can’t lose.



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