Markus/ November 2, 2018/ Viinimatkat/ 0 comments

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Unusual to me to write a blog of something else than winery visit but Kavalan distillery visit was an unique experience and I want to share it. Since wBlog means wine blog lets called this now a whisky blog.

I was on a business trip at Taipei and Hsinchu in Taiwan in the beginning of September 2018. After the hard work week my dear Taiwanese colleagues Sams, Ray and Jason arranged a trip to city called Yilan on the shore of Pacific Ocean. Yilan come lately famous in bad way because of deadly train crash in October 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mz_V1YJnTJI

My trip from Taipei to Yilan was much more safe in a car of my colleague Sams since he drove almost below the limits so felt super safe but I had a massive headache and a bit hurry to get medicine from pharmacy in Yilan city. Well, we got the medicine and everything was fine again. Thanks to Sams.

Road from Taipei to Yilan was mainly via tunnel. I heard that making the tunnel took as long as 20 years to Finish. After we checked in to the hotel I realized finally the talk about of the hot spring city. Even in the hotel room there was a hot spring bath directly from the volcanic soil, just turn the tap open. Also on the top of the roof was a big hot spring bath for all men guests and no swimming suits allowed, can you imagine in Asia.

From left: Sams, Jason “the surf master” ,Ray “the rambo” and Feng

We spent the evening having a dinner in a local very cheap and very good restaurant where were lot of very fresh seafood. Only stinky tofu was something which I couldn´t understand. We even had a Taiwan beer comparison which was nice. Winner was oldest traditional Taiwan beer.

Next morning it was time to visit the famous Kavalan whisky distiller. Distillery is very young, established in year 2005. Kavalan has won several whisky awards and prices including a best single malt whisky in the world. Can you imagine, Taiwanese whisky beats Scotch. In Europe Kavalan whisky is very pricey and limited availability. But in Taiwan value is great if you like fruity single malt whiskies more than smoky ones.

Fruitiness comes from weather which is mainly very hot with high humidity. This weather makes oak to effect more aggressively so despite young age, Kavalan whiskies matures in oak barrel faster than in cooler climate which makes them no comparable to other whiskies with the same age. The water which is used to manufacturing comes from mountains, to be more specific, from snow mountains and central mountains. This makes water to be pure and clean, even creamy they say. Kavalan seems to specialized to different style of oak. They using used sherry casks (oloroso, manzilla), port wine casks, bourbon casks and even wine barrique.

Tour was very commercialized but it was nice experience to smell all they whiskies and taste some. We all purchased a whisky which was matured in wine barrique and awarded as best single malt whisky in the world 2015.

After Kavalan visit we had time to see a museum where used to be the oldest distillery in Taiwan. They made local “white wine” called kaoliang. This “wine” is actually a spirit with over 50% of alcohol.

Sams left to take Feng to airport and we went to a delicious and famous barbecue chicken lunch with Jason and Ray.

After lunch Jason “the surf master” brought us to beach called black sand beach due the volcanic dark sand. The beach was popular for surfing and it was full of amateur surfers which maked surfing look a bit dangerous since surfing boards were flying here and there.

Black sand beach

It was time to head to the Taipei airport but before that Ray took me to the Car King´s coffee house up the hills to see a last view of Yilan. King Car is the same which makes Kavalan whisky as well.

Yilan

Warm thank you to Jason for arranging the trip and Sams to safe ride and Ray to ride to airport and making me realize that I don´t want to listen Adele never again (maybe Ray doesn’t have any other music in his phone?) Thanks to Feng for company and again thank you for all for hospitality.

I should remember this trip every time I taste one of the good stuff shown in the picture below.

-Markus Laukkanen

1.11.2018

 

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