There are many variables at play when it comes to cask maturation, but one thing is for sure - the warmer it is, the faster the interaction of liquid and wood. It's very warm in Taiwan, and at King Car distillery they even close the warehouse windows in the summer to keep the heat in. Fortunately, it's also pretty humid too (often reaching 95%), so whilst the heat dramatically speeds up maturation, the humidity keeps the angel's share down to around 10-12%. That's still high though - most Scottish distilleries would guestimate their annual evaporation closer to 2%.
The Kavalan Classic was the first release for the distillery in 2008 and is still their entry-level bottling. The recipe comes from four casks (fresh bourbon, oloroso sherry, refill and a secret one - more on that shortly), but despite being only around four years of age, rapid, warm, maturation has allowed it to develop much faster and, at the same time, imparted the distinctive tropical character of Kavalan whiskies.
Nose: Bananas, mangos and coconut come through strongly in a pronounced nose. This is supported by polish, vanilla fudge and creme brulee. It's a really inviting nose.
Taste: The tropical fruits of banana and mango still lead proceedings. There's a slight background wine taste here - perhaps this is the mystery cask in the receipe? Pleasant and balanced vanilla and a slight salty tang. A little thin in mouthfeel and development is rather hasty.
Finish: Medium in length and both woody and nutty.
Whilst neither deep, nor complex Kavalan Classic is immensely drinkable. It's hard not to like and, all malt fans will surely find something to enjoy here. This said, as of writing, the price of this whisky seems to have jumped dramatically ( a side effect of the Kavalan Vihno Barrique winning the World Whisky Awards no doubt). I found this bottle for £40 - now retailers want closer to £60. That's steep for what is arguably an entry-level bottle.