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Whisky from Taiwan is finding new fans worldwide

Felicity Murray asks Ian Chang at Kavalan about the distillery's different whisky expressions, who they are targeted at, the choice of packaging and where and how are they are being consumed

Ian Chang Kavalan Distillery

Ian Chang was educated in the UK and graduated from Reading University with a degree in food technology, flavours and aroma. He joined Kavalan Distillery in Taiwan in 2005 to become master blender. He is also the whisky producer’s brand ambassador, director of global business development and head of R&D.

“Kavalan," he explains, "targets whisky lovers of all ages who are innovative and bold from all over the world,” he says. “These consumers have a broad knowledge of whisky and love to try new things. Quality instead of age is what they look for.

“For Kavalan Classic and Concertmaster bottled at 40%ABV, it is perfect for sharing with friends and family – indeed it is suitable for any occasion. These are also favourites with mixologists as they work well with mixers and in cocktails. As for the Solist series, the cask strength whiskies are particularly targeted at whisky connoisseurs who would savour the whisky at home or perhaps share it at a tasting with their whisky club members.”

Kavalan has used the traditional seeding methods to promote the whisky in global markets: “We try to involve consumers in the brand itself and relate to them. We do tastings all over the world to entertain and educate the whisky enthusiasts by sharing not only the Kavalan story but also the beauty of the whisky itself.”

The combination of the distillery’s craftsmanship and the master blender’s great cask selection contributes to the unique flavour of Kavalan whisky.

“It is incredibly smooth, mellow and creamy. Above all, the distillery harnesses the heat of the Taiwanese summer to extract the wood and create a magical effect – a natural rich colour. The interaction of the new make and oak in high temperate conditions makes Kavalan Classic single malt whisky extraordinary. At Kavalan, we like to think that it is ‘maturation redefined’!”

Two new expressions, Kavalan ex-Bourbon Oak and Kavalan Sherry Oak were launched in December last year together with Podium. The former two are reduced in strength from Kavalan’s Solist ex-Bourbon and Solist Sherry with Kavalan natural water to 46% abv. Despite the reduction, they both retain all the essential characters and qualities of the Kavalan Solist series.

“The Podium is an innovative work of art, created by the perfect combination of treated brand new oak casks and Kavalan’s own refills, that shows the strength and innovation of our wood policy.

Kavalan Distillery Reserve Peaty Cask will also be available exclusively in the distillery and Kavalan showrooms this month (September 2013).

The product is positioned as a high end product, listed by up-market British wine and spirits stores and department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges. Following this, Kavalan Classic achieved listings with national supermarket chain Tesco with Chinese calligraphy on the packaging designed exclusively for its stores.

The packaging of Kavalan single malt delivers a contemporary and modern feel to attract younger generations and Ian hopes it conveys quality too.

“Our packaging certainly aims to reflect the quality of the whisky. We are now working on a new design that unleashes the brand’s essence, at the same time, delivering a modern feel.

“We want to offer top quality whisky to consumers and we hope this is recognised instantly by the square bottles, which clearly expresses the character of the distillery’s whiskies –products of craftsmanship, innovation and technology.”

To launch Kavalan in the UK, Chinese writing, meaning Kavalan in the form of the traditional calligraphy was added onto the packaging of the Classic to enhance the origin of the single malt and generate interest.

“We have a planning team responsible for specifying and designing of the packaging but, to ensure the brand’s packaging has a global market appeal, we partner a local design house (Subkarma). We also have a few trusty suppliers who are the best in the industry. For example, our cork stoppers are sourced from reputable Portuguese companies and our bottles are from a local manufacturer, Taiwan Glass group.

“Sustainability/environmental issues are, of course, absolutely important to us. For example, for the outer cases we use lightweight materials, which are all environmentally friendly and recyclable.

“We strive to produce quality and distinctive Taiwanese whisky and we are confident that it will please the whisky connoisseurs worldwide. Kavalan whisky is now available in most European countries and will be launched in the US and Russia very soon. Our goal is to make Kavalan available globally.”

In the World Whiskies Awards 2013, Kavalan Solist Fino was awarded Best Asian Single Malt.


11 September 2013