Kavalan Whisky Review

Kavalan Whisky Review

Our verdict

The single malt bottle Kavalan Whisky has its origins in Taiwan. It provides a sour scent with a taste that isn’t unlike sticky toffee pudding combined with blueberries and other fruity flavors. There are a lot of interesting notes to this whisky despite being watered down to 40%.

Overall rating

The longer review

Kavalan whisky is named after the indigenous Kalvan people. This group originally inhabited the Kabalan plain, which is now known as Yilan County. The distillery that is now used to create the whiskey was completed in December 2005. The business also produced the first spirit in March 2006 and released their first Bottle in December 2008. 

After the first few initial runs, Kavalan then bought far larger German stills with the aim of expanding production. Shortly after, however, they abandoned these because they produced an alcohol that was far too processed. This did not allow them to work with the right level of flavor and texture. 

In 2010, Kavalan caused significant disruption to the whisky industry, beating three Scottish whiskeys after being blind taste-tested on Burn’s Night. 

kavalan whiskey on glass

Kavalan was the first distillery to use the famous STR cask treatment. This stands for shaved, toasted before being re-charred. The method was a way to deal with the shortage of refill cakes that occurred between 2009 and 2018. 

The approach to maturation by Kavalan means that the whiskies tend to have a complexity that goes far beyond their tender age. The company started to gain trophies from 2010 when the whiskies were no more than four years old. 

The biggest market for Kavalan Whisky is in Europe. However, over the past few years, the producer has strived to gain a larger footprint in North American and Japan. However, the company is committed to still maintaining the same level of quality they have been known for over the last few years. 

kavalan whiskey in the glass

Tasting notes.

What to expect

Before you decide whether a whisky is right for you, you must look at the different traits connected to a particular bottle. This includes the smell, color, and taste, so how does Kavalan measure up? 


As with many whiskeys, people often note that there are various smells when sampling Kavalan whiskey. For instance, upon the first sip, you might discover the smell of chocolates mixed with liquor. Some people will also describe the smell of caramel, toffee, vanilla, mango, and after a short while, some floral aromas also begin to shine through. Tropical fruit smells undoubtedly become more apparent as you further sample this particular whiskey. You might also notice the subtle smell of wood as well as fried sugar bananas. 

kavalan whiskey barrels


The color of the whisky is dark amber. This might remind some individuals of similar whiskeys that are significantly more expensive than a bottle of Kavalan. However, it’s also reminiscent of the tropical flavors you will soon discover once you give this whisky a taste. Ultimately, it’s a beautiful shade, and that is sure to encourage you to take a large sip at first glance. 


Kavalan whiskey has a lively and passionate taste that certainly goes far beyond what you would expect from the number of years. Those who taste this whiskey will be delighted by the splendid mixture of banana runts, blueberries, and cardamom, as well as a slight hint of wormwood. The finish is also quite pleasant, with sour malt and oats and marshmallows becoming more noticeable along with every sip. 

kavalan whiskey on barrels

The Whiskey Rocks verdict.

Is it good?

Ultimately, if you are looking for a whiskey that does reach a high standard of quality, then this could be the perfect choice for you. Indeed, Kavalan has built a strong reputation for delivering nothing short of exactly what their customers expect. 

Some people might be put off Kavalan due to the low years of age and the fact that it is relatively new to the whisky industry. However, anyone who decided to give it a try will be pleasantly surprised by the distinct flavors that await, a scent which delivers far more complexity than the age would initially suggest. It also provides a fantastic value for money at $80 per bottle in the US.

Ashleigh Cain

Ashleigh is a key part of the editorial team at Whiskey Rocks. You'll often find her either writing educational articles or reviewing the latest artisan whiskeys. Her favorite drink? Ashleigh loves smokey scotches like Laphroaig, but you'll also often find her with an old fashioned in hand.

Pepperjam Verification

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram