Thursday, October 31, 2013


Warning - this post is boring and selfcelebrating

I invented a word last month. Unknowingly. It was on a whiskyforum discussion about a recent release of whiskies that got a price hike relative to the year before.

I decided to google the word, just to check it, I might have spelled it wrong - it does happen for me.


I invented a word!. Wohoo. A word that actual have a sensible use - at least for me :-)

So what does Dalmorisation mean? What did I mean by using that word ?

It is inspired by the distillery Dalmore. Nothing wrong with Dalmore whisky. In my opinion it's a rather average scottish distillery, but as scottish distilleries tends to make good whisky on average, that's not really bad.

But something goes wrong with Dalmore from cask to bottle to the shop. You can, and I can, argue about the whisky they put in the bottles. Whether we like it or not. It's an opinion of taste.

There's a few things to be noted about Dalmore. It's a premium whisky. It's even named "The Dalmore". But we all know that premium means expensive, but does it also mean superior?. It should, but maybe it doesn't.

The hype and premiumisation about Dalmore is not created by entusiast and fans praising the product. Trust me, Dalmore is more or less a non existent distillery in the mind of the whisky entusiast. I can't ever recall anyone organising a Dalmore vertical. And I've been around for a while, and I've been to quite a lot of tastings. It must have happened somewhere and sometime for sure, but I am pretty sure we can all agree it happens nearly next to never. It's not in top 100 of distilleries on whiskybase where it has a D rating. Not many have rated more whiskies than Serge on Whiskyfun and he has Dalmore on the 6th tier with 74 distilleries or so above it.

Dalmore's premiumisation is solely created and driven by a marketing department. Unlike other destilleries that has created stardom based on stellar released, often bottled in the past.

The term Dalmorisation is related to the saying "Lipstick on a pig"

What are they doing ?. In my opinion they are pricing whisky at a lot higher level that is justified from the quality of the whisky. It's not really that uncommon, quite a few others are doing the same. Dalmore just seem to be better at it and doing it on a larger scale than most others. Sometimes I won't buy a whisky for sale at 150£ because I think it really should be around 90£. But here we are talking about whisky at 600£ that I think should be around 90£.

And Dalmore did this before everyone else. The problem is, that this tendence is spreading. I bet it works. It makes the brand appear exclusive and will boost the sales of lesser and cheaper products. It's also an attention catcher.

Attention catchers works very well here in the days of the internet. Try to compare the noise an expensive, overpacked product creates compared to a cheap bargain. The difference is substantial.

Facebook, twitter, blogs, forums. Some days, in whisky circles, everybody just talk about the same things, and these things are very well controlled by the companies making whisky. People are sheeps. Yes we are

I really think the best way to deal with overpriced and overpackaged whiskies is to ignore them as a blogger, forumist, on facebook and on twitter, but it's hard. I try, but nobody's perfect. And now I did this piece, totally against my principles.

Am I annoyed by Dalmore. NO and YES. No, because I would probably not have bought their whiskies whatever they were priced. YES, because this Dalmorisation is spreading like the plague and when pricehikes happen to bottles I want it's annoying!

I would be happy to say that whisky cost exactly what us consumers are willing to pay, but when it comes to marketing this falls apart. What distillery makes the best whisky? The one which has a 40yo at 250£ that noone talks about or the one that have a 40yo at 4000£ that everyone talks about. You and me knows better, but does everybody else in the world ?

If you google Dalmorisation today there will be hits! The first two hits created were my usage on a forum. This post should create more hits :-). I almost feel like when I google myself :-)

PS Worst case of Dalmorisation I have ever seen is the Sirius grains which I ranted about here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Two superb bourbons

1. Parkers Heritage Collection 10yo wheated 63.9%

Annual special releases from Heaven Hill, this is a 10yo barrel strength version of their wheated bourbon, which is normally bottled under the Old Fitzgerald label.

Nose: Strong, solvent, dusty, warehouse. If you know the woody-sweet spirity smell you can experience in a warehouse you know what I mean.. This is just like standing next to a barrel.

Palate: Cream-Caramel, wood, soft vanilla, more wood. Again I get this feeling of being just next to barrel, which is not the worst association. I picture myself in a dark quiet rickhouse when drinking this

Finish : Long

An extreme bourbon, but also soft and friendly. It's the trademark of a wheater, which is a bourbon that has wheat as secondary grain, not rye which is more common. The wood is powerful, but it's not overpowering. It is well chosen barrels by Heaven Hill and this is a major move up from their regular wheated bottlings.

Rating 91/100

Now why doesn't HH bottle more stuff like this?. Rumours goes that stock has been sold to Buffalo Trace so they can keep up with supply for the van Winkle range. Maybe this is the reason ?

Thanks to Sku for the sample

2. Elijah Craig 12yo 134.2 proof

This is the barrel strength versions of Elijag Craig 12yo

As such I don't find a lot of commons between the regular and the barrel strength. The nose is dark licorise and spicy. This is one of those noses that has an anastetic effect on your mind.. I just want to dig deeper into it and almost try to drink this through my nose, Very nice. Normally the ethanol will refrain you from nosing a whisk(e)y to close to the liquid, but for this I just can't get near enough.

It's very spicy, with some sweet cinnamon like notes coming through.

Drinking this is powerful stuff. Now I can feel the ABV coming through. The whiskey is dark, powerful and oily, almost like engine oil in colour and texture. In fact this is so hot I need to add some water. This is one of the most oily whiskies I ever had. It is also so powerful in flavour I have to drink it drop by drop. If I had a bottle of this (I wish) it would last for years.

It's more intense than woody, it got licorise with a sweet edge. The finish is medium-long

Rating 89/100

Thanks to Michael for the sample

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My 7 favourite whisky books

1. Malt Whisky Yearbook
Edited by Ingvard Ronde
A little encyclopedia about malt whisky distilleries around the world, with main focus on Scotland and Japan. The book is published every autumn and there is plenty of new content to justify a new purchase every year. Every distillery has its own page with info and there are secions with statistics and maps. This is probably the essential book for malt whisky entusiasts.

2. Peat, Smoke and Spirit
Andrew Jefford
A large book covering Islay and her distilleries, the book has a few years on its back, so a new distillery like Kilchoman isn't covered. You will get a very good insigth into the whisky producing enviroment on Islay, islay it self and the 7 distilleries making whisky at the turn of the millenium

3. Appreciating Whisky
Phillip Hills
This book covers tasting whisky. Mainly our senses and what causes the tastes. There's a little bit of chemistry involved but nothing that will scare anyone. It describes how whisky tastes on a general level, and why it does so. It is written by the founder of SMWS

4. The Bluffers Guide to Whisky
David Milsted
This is the booked I learned the most from :-). It shows how to act and conduct yourself in the world of whisky to appear as the guy in the know, opposed to everyone else. Funny and wellwritten. The book has a few years on its back, but most of this stuff is timeless. If you don't want to become a pretender you always learn to easy spot one :-)

5. Canadian Whisky, the portable expert
Davin de Kergommeaux
This is THE book about Canadian Whisky, taking you throught all the destilleries and the history of distilling whisky in Canada. Canadian whisky has it's distinct style and production setup, and is not made the same way as whisky is made in USA, Ireland and Scotland

6. Bourbon, Straight
Charles K. Cowdery
A book about Bourbon. I reviewed the book HERE

7. The Best Bourbon You'll Never Taste
Charles K. Cowdery
A book about the bourbon A.H. Hirsch, made in Pennsylvainia in 1974. I reviewed it HERE

My next list is going to be "Great offers in travel retail for the whiskyentusiast"

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Upcoming, planned and rumoured distilleries in Scotland, Ireland and UK

Yesterday the newest distillery in Scotland, Strathearn Distillery filled it's first cask

Strathearn soon to be whisky

Never before have so many distilleries been in the plans or getting build. Here are the ones I am aware of

1. Glencarron
At the site of the old Imperial Distillery, Pernod Ricard is currently building a new distillery, rumoured to be named Glencarron. The building is well on its way

Photo from Dufftown 2000 facebook page

2. New Diageo Distillery in Alness
Diageo are building a new 13 million LPA, 16 copper pot stills distillery next to Teaninich Distillery

3. Ardnamurchan
A new distillery by the independent bottler Adelphi, is well on it's way on the remote peninsula Ardnamurchan, the westernmost point on the british mainland

Ardnamurchan summer 2013, from Adelphi's FB page

Primo Oct. 2013, photo by Thomas Skowronek

4. Annandale
The old Annandale distillery has been closed for 90 years and is up for a resurrection. The distillery is located near the english border on the west coast.

Annandale Nov. 2012

5. Falkirk Distillery
Falkirk Distillery is a project in Polmont that has been on its way for some years now, but something is finally happening.

Photo from Malt Maniacs FB-page

6. The Kingsbarn Distillery
Something is finally happening for  the founder Douglas Clement, after he has teamed up with the independent bottler Wemyss.

From Kingsbarns FB-page

On top of these six there is a range of rumoured distilleries:

7. Ballindalloch Castle
Ballindalloch Distillery LLP has received a £1.27 million grant from the Scottish government

8. Anniston Farm in Lunan, Angus
has received a £292.000 grant from the Scottish governemnt

9. Gartbreck Distillery, Islay
Near Bowmore, Jean Donnay of Glann Ar Mor in France is associated or behind this project

10. Glenrothes 
A rumoured distillery by the indian company Kyndal and John Fergus & Co. It is to be locaed just south of Fife Airport, west of Glenrothes. Rumoured name: Inchdairnie Distillery

11. Lindores Abbey in Fife
The first written record of whisky was a commission from King James IV to Friar John Cor of Lindores Abbey to make "eight bols of malt" Will whiskymaking return ti it's birthplace?

12. Unst, Shetland
Former Glenglassaugh director Stuart Nickerson should be involved in developing a distillery on Shetland. In very initial planning phase

13. Glasgow Distillery
AD Rattray are behind a new project in Queens Docks in Glasgow

14. Isle of Harris
There is a website for this It's been there for a while, ot sure if anything happens

15. Huntly Distillery
According to Duncan Taylor's owner, Euan Shands the distillery plans are still meant to go ahead. Nothing have happened in years though.

16. Camelon
Arran Brewery has secured a £500.000 grant from Historic Scotland to reopen Rosebank as a brewery and microdistillery. Rumoured name for the distillery is Camelon

17. Drimnin
A project in Drimnin, on the Sound of Mull, opposite Tobermory

18. Portavadie
A new project on the shores of Loch Fyne, opposite Tarbert

19. Tweeddale Blend
is working to fund a craft distillery. Read about at Whisky Discovery HERE - just scroll down to the bottom of his long post.

20. Isle of Barra Distillery

21. Torabhaig Distillery, Skye

22. Jedforest Hotel

Meanwhile in England
23. Lakes Distillery
Aimed to open in Spring 2014, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's later

There are also plans in Ireland
24. Tullamore
William Grant are currently building a new distillery in Tullamore to support their brand Tullamore Dew

25. Walsh
The company behind The Irishman and Writer's Tears are behind this project

26. Horse Island

27. Slane Castle

28. Teeling

Also Northern Ireland

29. Ballyhenry House

30. Gransha Road

30 new distilleries coming up? Possible. I reckon most if not almost all of them will happen. Time will tell. And I am sure there are more than I know of, some like to keep quiet about these things! Let me know if you heard something I didn't

It doesn't look like I will run out of new distilleries to visit in the future

Dogme reviews #2.Three from Canada

Three short reviews. Today from Canada

Special canadian whisky is extremely hard to come by here in Europe. If you ask 10 people what country makes Canadian Club, I am sure a few will answer either Scotland or USA !

1. Forty Creek Barrel Select 40%

The nose is gentle, as is very common for me with canadian whiskies, it really is a laid back light style of whisky (usually, not always). There's a hint of rye in nose and and a slight touch of dried fruits. The palate is dominated by the sherrywine touch with a nice combo of sherrywine and distant rye. The combination works really well.  The standard low 40% canadian ABV makes this whisky extremely easy to drink,  but the whisky is still quite oily. The dominant flavours for me is fruity raisins and rye.

Forty Creek is a blend of single grain corn, barley and rye whiskies aged 6 to 10 years, then vatted together and finished in sherry barrels for 6 months

Rating 84/100

2. Hirsch Selection Canadian Rye Whisky 20yo 43%

Hirsch is an american independent bottler and the provenance of this whisky is unknown to me. Quite typical, for an aged canadian whisky, I don't really get any added wood impact of this very old whisky. It is just smoother. It's a single barrel, column distilled canadian rye. Flavourwise the rye is not that dominant, not compared to other high rye whiskies I have tasted. It has a lot more rye impact than the Forty Creek Barrel Select. This is a rather simple, clean, smooth and crisp rye whisky, easy drinking. The rye is not overpowering  but still present and I reckon this will be a gentle introduction to the rye catagory for a newbie

Rating 84/100

1. Stalk & Barrel Barrel#2 61.3%
Still Waters Distillery

This is one of the first bottlings from the Canadian micro distillery Still Waters in the suburbs of Toronto in Ontario

The nose is light, spicy and a hint of newmake. It doesn't have anything in common with the first two whiskies. Despite its younger age, there is more wood impact and the whisky is fullbodied, but I would have expected that as there is no water added, as far as I know.

The palate is young and fruity, the kind of pleasant fruityness you smell in the stillhouse. Newmakey esters.
Beside being young, I pick up a meaty context and vanilla. A bit of water brings out malt and grains of this

This is still too young for my taste, but it's a promising spirit from a new distillery with no off notes that often makes young whiskes a pain to try. And belive me.  I have tried a few!

 I like the possibility to try a distillery where the spirit is not hidden behind peat, sherry or rye, which for me is "The easy way" for a distillery to bottle their young products. Not the case here

Rating 78/100

Thanks to Johanne, also known as whiskylassie for the sample

Friday, October 18, 2013

5 distilleries worth visiting you might not have thought of

Visiting Distilleries...

It's a hobby of mine. I've been around 130 or so and all the visits have been fun. That's how it is with hobbies. Others say, have you seen one then you have seen them all. Obviously I don't agree :-)

Some distilleries are known for their nice visitor centres, others for great tours or fantastic scenery. When people recommend distilleries to visit it is very often the same names that pop up. And I don't disagree.

But here is five distilleries that I found particular interesting and they are not mentionend that often compared to others. So if you have seen a lot or a few distilleries, here is 5 that might have something to offer.

1. Four Roses Warehouses

Four Roses warehouses and Four Roses distillery are located 50 miles apart. The distillery offer two different tours, the warehouse tour needs an appointment first

It's called the Warehouse and Bottling facility. Four Roses Warehouses are unusual for Kentucky as they are single story warehouses. Opposed to the "standard" multi story warehouses. There is around 20 warehouses and a bottling facility on the site. You get inside one or two of the warehouses and then you get to the bottling facility where barrels are emptied, vatted and then bottled. The day we visitied they were doing single barrels. It's a great operation to watch and first hand see the barrels dumped.

Getting ready to empty this

2. Indian Creek Distillery

Indian Creek distillery is a revival of a distillery that has been silent since 1920. It was a smaller farm distillery that was forced to close when prohibition hit in 1920. The distillery was founded by Elias Staley around 1826 and run for almost a century until 1920 (with a break or two). Now 6th generation on the Staley farm, Melissa and Joe Duer has reinstalled the old original stills in the original setup and has started producing whiskey again. Using original recipe involving rye, barley, corn and hops and hickory wood for maturation (or partly) this distillery is probably so traditional that modern understanding and rules of whiskey has surpassed them in the century that has passed. It's a very nice place to visit and the Duer's has done a great job resurrecting this distillery, and visiting is a bit like going back in history.

Staley farm stills

3. Deanston

If you have visited distilleries in Scotland and want to see a distillery that is a bit different than the rest I recommend Deanston near Doune Castle. It's an old cotton mill that after 180 years was transformed into a distillery in the 60's. It is beautifully located on the bank of the river Teith. The whole distillery is located inside one building which is somewhat unusual as warehouses are normally set aside the rest of the distillery. The place has an interesting story and it's one of my favourite tours. After the tours there is a chance to taste the great whisky from the distillery. The destillery is powered by it's own water turbines, that produces enough power to also supply the nearby village with power (or used to). The giant turbines is an unusual sight for a whisky tourists. When "The Danish Drinking Team" group of 8, visited Scotland and around 10-12 distilleries in May this year, Deanston that was most popular amongst the bottle shoppers amongst us!

Deanston Still Room

4. Tomatin

An interesting distillery to visit in the scottish Highland. It used to be biggest distillery in Scotland, but the production has been scaled down to around 50% of what it once was. It used to run two mashtuns, and now the redundant mashtun has become a visitor attraction in itself. The distillery itself is a small village, quite isolated up in the Highlands between Inverness and Speyside, just on the A9. When entering through the narrow tunnel under the railway, you are met by giant warehouses reminding me of  Kentucky, if it wasn't for the heather highland surroundings. The place also have a visitor centre and bottle your own facility

Climb inside a mashtun at Tomatin

4. Yoichi

I covered my recent visit to Yoichi in another blog post here. This is exactly how it should be to visit a distillery. Everything was in japanese though, but maybe I should have learned that before I went :-)

Tasting Bar Yoichi Distillery

Next list will be: 7 of my favourite whiskybooks

Sunday, October 13, 2013

5 things to do in Edinburgh if you like whisky (and beer)

Or things to do in Edinburgh at least 500 times before you die...particular no. 5

1. Visit a whiskyshop

The Royal Mile, mainly a pedestrian street, leading from Holyrood palace at the bottom up to Edinburgh Castle at the top, hosts two of my favourite whiskyshops in Edinburgh.

Royal Mile Whiskies, about one third from the top is one of Scotlands leading speciality stores for whisky of all kind. The staff is well educated and the selection is very big. Especially considering the small size of the shop. It's a tight little shop, quite old. When a heavy guy like me moves around in the room, the floor is slightly dislocated and you can hear and see bottles moving one millimeter here, one millimeter there. If your wear a backpack, watch when you turn.

Further down The Royal Mile, about one third from bottom is another small excellent whisky shop, Cadenhead's Whisky Shop. Whiskyshops are speciality shops, but this is a speciality shop amongst speciality shops. Cadenhead's Whisky Shop mainly sells whisky from Springbank and the associated independent bottler Cadenhead's

The staff is extremely knowledgeable about whisky and if you want to bring a bottle of whisky home that noone tasted before they more or less only got bottles here that fits that description. 

2. Join a Jolly Toper tasting

If I am in Edinburgh on a thursday, I always try to go to one of Jolly Toper's whiskytastings

They are usual on every 2nd thursday or so, but if I happen to be in Edinburgh on a "wrong" thrusday, I have before succeded in talking the host to schedule an extra tasting :-)

The host is also one  the guys behind the counter of Cadenhead's but he serves all kinds of whisky, and often something unusual is on the agenda, it can exceptional rare, exceptional good or strange. The guests are always a good company and very opinionated about what they drink in the good way.

Kilderkin, the pub that hosts these tastings are also worth a visit. It has some of the best pub food in Edinburgh (I have tried), nice little selection of whisky (and rum) and a couple of good casks ales on tap

3. Visit the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Their various bars around the world (some better than others...) They have a huge selection of their own bottlings, excellent food and good beer. A good place to try haggis in my opinion, it's delicious.

Their bottlings is not focused on distilleries but on their own, over the top, sometimes obscure tasting notes. I usually go in their bars and let everything else but distillery names decide what to drink, and often went away with a bottle that was a litle gem from an unknown distillery

4. Scotch Whisky Experience

Near the top of The Royal Mile, you find the Scotch Whisky Experience. This is a whisky experience made for the numerous tourists visiting Edinburgh, but it also got something to offer for the more experienced whiskydrinker

The place will take you through a fairy fun ride, sitting in a "barrel" and getting introduced to what scottish whisky is. After this there is sensory tasting session (various choices), The Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection, a collection of 3500 bottles on display, big fun for any whisky geek as there is many older bottlings. The place also have a bar and a restaurant.

5. A Pint

Edinburgh is an abundance of great pubs of all kinds. I am a big fan of scottish real ales and use time in Edinburgh on beers as well as whisky

I allready mentioned Kilderkin, but the list is almost endless and I am far from having visited everywhere. A random place seldom dissapoints me, but here is a few places I have been that are a bit different, and that I liked

Guildform Arms: Big selection of scottish real ales, well served, can be busy
Malt and Hops: Cosy little pub in Leith (near the SMWS Vaults) with a good selection of real ales
Bow Bar: real ales and whiskies, old fashioned speciality pub, with good selection
Whiski: huge selection of whisky, mainly OB, but if you want to try out the recent offering from Macallan, this is the place
Brew Dog: Modern Bar, serving modern style beers, mainly their own, and some great food

Next list will be: 5 distilleries worth visiting that you might not have thought of

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

7 whiskies to taste before you die

A lot of the lists I see floating around the internet, books etc., "best this", "try that"," read now", "die later" seems quite random and made by people who just shouldn't have made a list. My problem is usually not what is NOT on the list, but what's on it!

I decided to make some lists for others to disagree with. Here's the first!

7 whiskies to try before you die
and a few extra recommendations

This is the real thing. You ain't gonna turn around in your grave if you miss out on Jim Beam Black whatever Ian Buxton says

The seven whiskies is more a catagory or groups of bottlings, than a specific bottling. 3 specific great whiskies to search for is mentioned below though.

1. Ardbeg from the 70's
Around the turn of the millenium there was quite a big stock of old Ardbeg lying in their warehouse. This was before Ardbeg was the talk of the town and before Ardbeg was one of the most popular malt whiskies out there. So a lot of quite old Ardbeg was bottled, a lot cheaper than today. The best were those distilled in the 70's, early 70's particulary.

Here's a few legendary bottlings: Lord of the Isles, Ardbeg Provenance, Old Malt Cask did a range of bottlings, like the Ardbeggeddon for the PLOWED society and the distillery itself did a range of single casks.

2. Brora
Short version: Clynelish distillery was "copied" in the late 60s and the owners renamed the original version Brora, and kept the name Clynelish for the new modern distillery next door. Brora, the original Clynelish, was closed in 1983.

In the early 70's, while Caol Ila was being modernised by DCL (now Diageo), they used Brora to produce some peated whisky for extra supply. While Clynelish and Brora are similar, but still different whiskies, they differ a lot in this period, when one was peated and the other not. Personally I found Brora around 1972 to be the most peated. Brorageddon from the PLOWED society and OB 30yo 2002 are my two favourites, but I sure wished I bought more of this, but who doesn't ?

3. Bowmore from 60's
Bowmore from the 60's is legendary. It's not just the super-expensive Black Bowmore, White Bowmore and Gold Bowmore, but also Bowmore like the 1964-1979 Bicentenary:

Most people, but not all, agree that something went wrong with Bowmore in the late 70's up to mid 90s, particular in the 80s, but they seem to be back on the very right track now. I wonder if they dare to make a bottling called "Phoenix" one day!

4. Caperdonich 1972
Duncan Taylor was essentially based on a huge stock of "forgotten" casks. Amongst them were quite a large amount of Caperdonich casks filled in 1972. These were bottled more or less one by one over a period of around a decade. From being a distillery that was regarded as a nothing, Caperdonich became one of the recent legends in the world of whisky. It's not just Caperdonich 72 that is great whisky, aged Caperdonich in general is marvelous. There just happened to be a lot more from 72 around than other vintages. Caperdonich was mothballed in 2002 and is demolished today.

5. Stitzel-Weller
Stitzel-Weller was closed in 92 and is arguably the most legenday bourbon distillery. The blame or cause for this is probably the bottles released as Pappy van Winkle. Pappy van Winkle is a brand, and as the stock of old Stitzel-Weller is dissappearing the whiskey is replaced by similar aged whiskey from other distilleries. It looks like there is no problem keeping the quality up, basically telling us that the recipe combined with carefully cherrypicked barrels is the key, not the distillery itself. But the legacy is there, and it is there for a reason. Look out for older bottlings of Pappy van Winkle 15 and 20 and Jefferson Presidential Select labeled as Stitzel-Weller. The original brand from Stitzel-Weller was Old Fitzgerald (now owned by Heaven Hill) I hope I one day will be able to try bottlings like Very Old Fitzgerald, Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald and Very Very Old Fitzgerald from Stitzel-Weller. And hey, rumours says Stitzel-Weller will reopen!

6. A. H. Hirsch
A. H. Hirsch is a range of bottlings from a distillery in Pennsylvania, all distilled within the same week in 1974 and most of it dumped from the barrels in 1990 as 16yo. I recommend that you read Chuck Cowdery's book "The best bourbon you'll never taste" for further info.

7. Rosebank
To me Rosebank is THE legendary lowlander. Closed in the 90's. Triple or 2½ times distilled (or both, people are arguing about this). When people are talking about the Lowland catagory and how it's supposed to taste, they basically talk about how Rosebank tastes. Or did taste. The rest of the Lowland is more or less as different as the rest of Scotland without being peated.

If you think Old Benriach, Port Ellen, Convalmore, Lochside, St. Magdelene and Old Glenglassaugh should have been on the list, I can't really disagree

Should this rare rye have been on the list. I think so

You don't have to go way back in time to find spectular AND affordable whisky.
SMWS 35.71 "like a hug from your mom", released 2012

Benromach 55yo.
I wish I had a bottle
(Photo stolen from TWE)

Martin Mills. Best bourbon I ever tasted. Who wants to sell me a bottle ?

Next list will be: Things to do in Edinburgh, especially  if you like whisky!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Visiting Kavalan

King Car Distillery or Kavalan is located a couple of miles outside of Yilan on the east coast of Taiwan, around one hour from the capital Taipei

The distillery is about the size of an average distillery in Scotland.

This summer I had the pleasure of visiting Kavalan. Taiwan is tropical, so the enviroment is quite different than what I am used to when visiting similar distilleries in Scotland

Tours are in chinese. Some days there is english guides available, but not the day I had my visit scheduled

You have the possibility of doing a self guided tour and have a look at the distillery. You simply walk around in your own pace in a special tourist corridor that takes you through the distillery and also into a viewing platform in a gigantic warehouse. There is plenty of signs explaining thing, also in english

The Stills at Kavalan


Next to the distillery is the biggest visitor center I have seen in any distillery. Above the visitor centre is a coffee and cake cafe the same size. The company behind Kavalan is also have Mr. Brown Coffee, a big coffee brand in Taiwan. It is a good coffee by the way

Kavalan visitor centre. In July!

At one end of the visitor centre there is a bar where the tours ends with a tasting. Doing the self guided tour you can just join in and have some tastes. One of the guides at work that day spoke really good english and was able to serve me a few tasters and took her time to answer a couple of questions about the distillery.

The distillery is located in tropical Taiwan. Beneath a steep mountain range raising from the sea. The area is full of springs, both hot and cold and the supply of water is not the problem here. The high temperatures makes the maturing enviroment very different to Scotland. The angels share are very high, up to 15% annually. Basically this is high-speed matured whisky. Now how is their whisky?. Here is my opinion from a range of miniatures I bought at the distillery. I hope these wee tasting notes will give you a little idea about how Kavalan tastes!

1. King Car Conductor 46%. 
Non chill-filtered

Nose: Very pleasant and tropical, reminds of the delicate nose of old fragile speysiders, with the dominant sweet fruityness

Palate: The youth can't be hidden with an initial burn on your tip of the tongue. That said, this is easy drinking, with some added nutty/maltness to the tropical start

Finish: Short and some bitterness

Rating 82/100

2. Kavalan ex-bourbon oak 46%
Hand selected ex-bourbon casks

Nose: less tropical, with a minty touch. Light and delicate

Palate: Sweet and oily, with some bitterness

Finish : Medium

Rating 83/100

3. Kavalan Podium 46%
A mix of virgin oak and refill Kavalan casks

Nose: Vanilla and minty with a sweet spicyness

Palate: Fresh and then the fruityness hits

Finish: Sweet and less bitter than the first two. Medium length

Rating 84/100

4. Kavalan Sherry Oak 46%
A very dark whisky

Nose: Licorise

Palate: Archetypical dry woody sherry. I am very sulphursensitive and tasting a clean sherry like this is pure enjoyment for a change. Nice spicy sherry, with more wood character than "dried fruits". My theory is that this is due to the climate enforced wood influence

This should be a must for all sherryfans to search out

Finish: Medium-Long

Rating 87/100

Now onto the Solist range, which is a series of Kavalan Cask Strengths

5. Ex-bourbon Solist 57% 
Bottled 25.12.2012

Nose: Tropical fruits, vanilla and mint

Palate: Minty and fresh, quite intense, with a hint of citrus. Burns a bit going down, also on my tip of the tongue

Finish: Medium-long

Rating 83/100

6. Solist Vinho Barrique 57%
Bottled 20.11.2012

Nose : Sweet and wine

Palate: I normally don't like wine flavoured whiskies but this works. The gentle wine impact surrounds the whisky and doesn't destroy nor overpower it. This is how to mature whisky on wine casks. The bitterness I do find in the Kavalan, probably due to the spirit working excessively with the wood in the hot tropical climate, needs some kind of sweetness to be balanced out. This works with new wood, sherry and also this winecasked whisky

Rating 83/100

7. Solist Sherry Cask 58.7%
Bottled 01.11.2012

Nose: Sulphur, then a lot of tropical fruits, and a fresh hint soap, almost like an unpeated Bowmore. This sounds a lot worse than it is :-). It's actual not that unpleasant and a bit intriguing

Palate: Dark licorise, hint of rubber. This is heavy licorise for sure. Dry and a faint bitterness. This is one of those challenging whiskies some entusiasts will really enjoy exploring

Finish: Medium and pleasant

Rating 84/100

My conclusion: I often prefer bourbon casks over other cask types, but this is not the case with Kavalan


Oh, and they got some german stills as well. When asked, she said they were making malt whisky on these to see how it turns out



I stayed in Jiaoxi, 5 minute train ride from Yilan. It was a very relaxed and friendly town, with few tourists but still lively and the only place in Taiwan I managed to find local microbrew, by finding that  was pure luck , as searching the internet for good beer around Yilan and Jiaoxi didn't give me any help.

Final Comment:

You see some quotes rating Kavalan well above 90 here and there on the internet. Up to 97. Don't get fooled, this whisky is not gonna make you fall down your chair and raise up again with a new whisky revelation.
It is indeed a good whisky, well worth searching out and trying. The whisky is young, usually revealed by some tonguetip burns and the wood influence is exceptional for this young age, with a lot of flavours I usually associate with a lot older whisky. Don't expect super soft whiskies, but expect some pleasant surprises flavourwise