The Ultimate Kavalan Whisky Distillery Experience Recap
This August 2018, we have been given a one of a kind experience by Kavalan’s Master Blender Ian Chang for a private tour of his Taiwan distillery. It was a trip filled with good food, spectacular whisky, and just an overall great time with like-minded individuals from the Philippines.
Let me tell you about the highlights of our three-day trip:
Day 1: Whisky Shopping Extravaganza
After making it to Taiwan and checking in at Hej Boutique Hotel, we did the first thing on our tour list which is one of the most important things: whisky shopping.
We were fortunate enough to have a shopping experience setup by one of our industry contacts in Taipei and were given the chance to taste a selection of over 40-50 different whiskies!
My favorites of the night were the Glendronach 21, Kilchoman 8yo 2009, and the Royal Salute 23 year old Taiwan exclusive. The store gave us a very warm treatment all throughout our time there.
I also want to give a special shout out to the store lady for giving us some yamazaki 12 to try (even though it was hidden under the bar) and letting us kill the rest of the dalmore 18.
We were scheduled to go to the famous Taipei night markets but our supposed one hour of shopping ended up being a three-hour extravaganza and it was only until dinner time that we left to join the rest of the gang.
We had our 9pm late dinner in one of the more popular Taiwanese Eat All You Can Hot Pot spots called Mala Hot Pot. We had our selection from several different types of meats including Wagyu, short ribs, lamb, crab, shrimps and huge scallops.
The restaurant was kind enough to waive our corkage fee and bring in a few bottles. After some good food, quality whisky, and fun conversations, we called it a night at around midnight.
Day 2 Part One: Kavalan Distillery Experience
We got on the bus at 8am and the 1-1.5hr ride to Yilan wasn’t too bad. We had a few good conversations on the bus and time flew by pretty quickly before reaching the distillery
Since Kavalan has 1 million visitors per year and is usually packed on a Saturdays. Us having a private tour meant we had the privilege to skip the crowd and the long lines because we were assisted by Sherry, Master Blender Ian’s assistant who was very accomodating.
The place was really nice and we couldn’t resist taking lots of photos!
We were then taken to the King Car Board room where we got to watch a video and hear about the history of King Car, Kavalan and their many other entities.
Afterwards we got to walk around and take pics of different areas around the Distillery.
Meeting up with Ian, were given a quick tour on how the whisky is made, starting from the malt all the way to end product. What makes Kavalan so unique is their meticulous focus on the quality of their process. Everything has to be precise and everything has to be with the utmost highest quality. I think I also remember hearing that Kavalan spends the most on their barrels than any other company in the world. Just, amazing.
We even got to see first hand how they Toast their barrels. Toasting their barrels is one of the signature steps in their preparation process that makes Kavalan Whisky so special.
Normally, tour goers are not allowed to view the warehouse but we were given the special opportunity to enter. Ian gave us a bit more history and even cracked open a 7 year old Amontillado Single Cask for us to sample straight from the barrel.
Even though the alcohol level was over 50%, it was very easy to drink. It was well balanced, a bit sweet, and had tons of flavor. I tasted hints of toffee, vanilla, maybe some dried fruits a little spice.
Overall, it was an incredible experience and definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
Since it was hot in the warehouse, we were taken to their private tasting room where they started us off with 4 different whiskies, which were all excellent.
Here are the lovely ladies having the best time!
They even surprised us with a final tasting of their Distillery Exclusive Rum Cask.. Which can only be bought at the Distillery!
After doing so, we went to the blending room to mix 3 different Kavalan barrels with complete different tasting notes. The goal was to mix a few different combinations and see which one you liked the best.
Then you could fill up your bottle with the desired combination. Taste it. And then seal the bottle with your own signature on it.
This was a very unique experience that I have never done before. Everyone was given a souvenir bottle with their blend in it to take home.
Before going back to our bus, We were also able to pick up a few bottles and get them signed by the Master Blender Ian Chang himself.
Also, here’s a pic of the Kavalan Rum Cask which is a distillery exclusive and can only be bought at the Kavalan Distillery Store.
All in all, we had a great time at Kavalan and I’m thankful to Master Blender Ian Chang for this extraordinary experience.
After the Kavalan tour, we were able to go back at 4pm and was given 2 hours to rest or explore the city. As for me, I chose to explore and find some milk tea for myself before heading to the second part of our day 2 trip.
Day 2 Part Two: Glenmorangie Tasting event hosted by Murphy Chang
Murphy Chang is the Taiwan Brand Ambassador for Glenmorangie and he also hold the distinguished title as Keeper of the Quaich. In this event that he hosted for us we were able to taste 4 different whiskies (10, lasanta, 18 yo, and the Signet).
Of course the 4 is never enough and we were treated to a surprise and he cracked open a bottle of the Grand Vintage 1990 Batch 1 (valued at P35-40k)!
While doing so, we were also treated to a 12 course Taiwanese fusion dinner, which paired perfectly with the whisky.
Murphy did a great job mixing in a bit of Glenmorangie history, with Taiwan Whisky facts, and his personal stories to keep the group entertained throughout the night.
The food was very delicious and of course the whisky was superb. Everyone left full and satisfied and it was a great way to end the evening.
Day two was truly a wonderful experience where most of our trip’s highlights happened!
Day 3: Seafood Steampot to Conclude our Taiwan Trip
For our final day, we saved the best meal for last. And because we were in Taiwan, we had to try the Steam Pot.
Imagine this… Fresh Lobster, Crab, Shrimp, Scallops, Beef, Clams and Other Seafoods…. Marinating and Seasoning it.
Then Steaming it in an enclosed pot to keep all the natural flavors in. And while it’s cooking, the Juices drip.
Slowly by slowly… down into this Big Pot of rice. With all of the flavors from the seafood, meat and vegetables simmering. Eventually being turned into their famous Steam Pot Rice Porridge Congee.
We had great meal and was definitely happy to have participated in this trip.
Next Trip: A One of a Kind Whisky Experience with YOU!
This Whisky Tour was such a success that we plan to do more in the future. Hopefully to other destinations such as Japan, Scotland, the US or even back to Taiwan again.
Hopefully, we will experience the next tour with you! If you would like to join one of our trips or get our next announcement… feel free to add your name on our email list. You’ll be the first to find out.