General facts: This is a NAS-bottling from Taiwanese Kavalan (Yuan Shan Distillery), where the whisky has been matured in a mix of virgin oak and refill casks from the distillery. We don’t know the exact age (other than the facts that it’s at least three years old and that whisky matures more rapidly at Kavalan due to the climate), but we do know that the ABV is 46% and that the whisky isn’t chill-filtered. I dare assuming it’s not coloured either.
Nose: Wow, this is a very ingratiating nose! Rich and sweet, with oven baked apples and loads of honey. After a while I sense Muscat wine and canned peaches. Perhaps some fresh mint too? And something slightly perfumed which is hard to pinpoint. Almost like the wooden incense sticks I had for a while in my old student apartment. With water the nose kind of disappears, to return a bit later with candy strings, fudge, vanilla sugar and coca cola-flavoured candy. The whole thing turns mostly super-cosy and sweet, and some of what felt interesting about the nose earlier now feels more like a yawn.
Taste: There is an evident oakiness to this whisky and also a lot of honey, just like the nose. The shiky is more spicy than fruity flavour wise, really, with heaps of fresh nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon soon following. Syrup is noticeable too as a light and sweet tastenote. The taste is absolutely very well-balanced but perhaps also a bit flat, a bit too soft and somewhat unexciting. After having added a few drops of water: woopsy daisy, cockier spices now! The taste gets a nice, big kick of pepper with chocolate-dipped oat cookies and a touch of really dry, bitter cocoa! A nice improvement.
Finish: The aftertaste is pretty short with some vanilla, a bit of oak, undefined spices plus something that vaguely reminds me of Physalis fruits. With water the finish lingers a bit longer, and gets a tangy but bitter note of grapefruit.
It’s a lucky thing this whisky has an ABV of 46%, because at 40% it wouldn’t have offered much complexity. The nose is at first very promising, but the taste is somewhat of a disappointment. Tasty, absolutely, but after the start that the nose offered I expected more from the taste. The interesting thing about this whisky is that it is kind of turned upside-down after adding water to it! The nose becomes so-and-so, but the taste that was a tad tired before gets some new energy and shows new sides that are more fun. The finish is, however, still slightly tired both with and without water. A tasty, almost bourbon-like, whisky but I have tasted more exciting and complex whisky from Kavalan than this.