Recently I attended a VIP reception sponsored by The Government of Taiwan as a part of the Asia / American Consumer Electronics & General Merchandise Trade Show (AACS.11) here in Miami.  The reception was designed to highlight Taiwan’s electronic, manufacturing and tourism industries, as well as their emerging couture and liquor business.  I will admit that up to this point I was oblivious to any food or drink specifically Taiwanese – Modern Taiwan was formed when Chaing Kai Shek and his Nationalist forces and supporters fled to the island of Formosa to escape Mao Tse Dung and the Communists. I have always thought of Taiwan’s cuisine and tastes to be essentially the same as mainland China’s.  Taiwan evidently wants to change this perception by stepping out on the world stage and revealing their own identity.

Law # 28 of Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power” states: “Enter into action with boldness.”  Food & beverage conglomerate King Car Group of Taipei is doing just that by introducing its Kavalan distillery and their award winning line of single malt whiskey to the world at large.  Doing their homework and bringing in experts from Scotland and Japan, they built from the ground up a modern distillery in 2002, releasing their first product in the Taiwanese domestic market in 2008.  They have spent the last 3 years perfecting their craft and building capacity for a global roll-out. They offer 4 varieties: A straightforward single malt whiskey as well as varieties aged in port, sherry and bourbon barrels. In addition to this they have a canned, ready – to – drink highball product.

I readily admit that I am finicky when it comes to whiskies in their various iterations. I am not a Scotch drinker (I like my meat smoky, not my drinks) but I do enjoy the finest Kentucky & Canadian products from time to time. There is a warming effect unique to whiskey. Rum is a hot weather, tropical drink but whiskey can warm your bones on a cold night. Whiskey is what I had that cold October night after I was attacked by a wild boar in Tennessee (I killed and ate it).  This being said, I did not expect much when I sampled the first glass.  “Watery,” I thought, but then this was because the convention center bartender prepared it too early and did so on the rocks. Giving it a second try, she prepared a tasting neat, that is to say pure with nothing to dilute it.

Taking time to absorb the bouquet, it was straightforward and pleasant, clean and crisper than some other whiskies, which is a good thing.  Upon first taste however, I felt that familiar warming of the extremeties that as I said, is unique to whiskey.  This was not at all harsh, but cognac smooth. Very drinkable yet with an assertive flavor. A good liquor should be gentlemanly. That is to say, manly but not brutish and unrefined. Kavalan certainly meets this standard. It reminded me of what honey would taste like were it savory instead of sweet.  Normally whiskey is something I keep on hand for guest requests. When Kavalan is available in the USA – I am told they are still setting up import channels and handling licensing arrangements, I will certainly stock it – and enjoy it myself.

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