Distiller spotlight

Kavalan Solist Vinho
Barrique Cask Whisky

Kavalan, the name from the east, was the first Taiwanese whisky ever produced. The whole story began in the early 2000s, when the world was just starting to talk about Asian whisky. The King Car Group had a clear vision to build something different on the island. They arrived on the market at the right time, just when the whisky world was looking for something new and different. Whisky lovers around the world were ready to see what Asian distilleries had to offer and Kavalan was happy to oblige.

One of the distillery’s flagship products is the Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Cask. It is one of the premium products I tried from Kavalan, and the flavors have stayed firmly in my memory. Sweet aromas are rich with vanilla, caramel sauce, and dark chocolate. Flavors of walnuts, more chocolate, and spice linger on the palate and finish with fruity notes and tart citrus along with zesty pepper and spice.

The Solist won the “World best Single Malt” and “Best Asian Single Malt” in 2015, the Double Gold Medal in San Francisco Wine and Spirit Competition in 2017, and Platinum in 2019. This bottle gives you a glimpse of the Asian culture that created it via the barrel that was selected and the climate that helped the whisky mature. The tropical aromas, fruity, rich, and spicy flavors, and deep gold color add a vibrant element to the tasting experience.


Cask Finished Spirits
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Cocktails & Food Provide
an Interesting Twist


New Japanese Whisky Regulations Ensure Integrity

Japan has been officially distilling whisky since 1923 and since then it has been slowly making its whiskies known throughout the world, becoming some of the most expensive and sought-after bottles in the market. Unfortunately, as whisky lovers began to learn about Japanese whiskies, they found that not everything was what it seemed. Connoisseurs everywhere discovered some Japanese whiskies were not actually from Japan but were blended with whiskies from other counties and imported to Japan. There were no set regulations for Japanese producers and blenders, so it became difficult for consumers to get clear answers and the industry became rife with imposters.

Beginning on April 1st, 2021, the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association instituted a new list of regulations to ensure integrity for Japanese whisky. All members of the association must follow the new rules to label their product “Japanese whisky”, although they do have until the end of March 2024 to adhere to all the regulations, which include:
  • Malted grain must be used as the starting material, other grain may be added.

  • The water used must come from Japan.

  • The production process from malting through fermentation, distillation and maturation must take place in a Japanese distillery.

  • A maximum of 95% vol. may be distilled.

  • Japanese whisky must be stored in wooden barrels with a maximum volume of 700 liters for at least three years.

  • When bottling, which must take place in Japan, the alcohol content of the whisky must not fall below 40% vol.

  • Coloring with caramel (E150) is allowed.

Japanese whisky has a bright future, and a few regulations are welcomed if it prevents a false representation of Japan. Hopefully we’ll see some new distilleries stepping up to the game and showing the true nature of Japan.


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    Ethan Kelly is Acker’s Spirits Director and resident expert on all things distilled. Born in Michigan and raised in New Jersey, Ethan Kelley started his career in Spirits early. Beginning an exhaustive journey through the world of beverage alcohol, he got his start behind the bar. Eventually, interests piqued and liver primed, he made the switch from shots to sips and began a lifelong love affair with learning and tasting. Soon, he teamed with Flavien Desoblin at Brandy Library, and a career was launched.

    Traditionally educated at Elon University, Ethan found his real learning came from visiting distilleries, cooperages, coppersmiths, and farms; along the way, he tasted and acquired new interests, including a passionate relationship with the outdoors and the influence of the natural world. An educator at heart, Ethan is committed to sharing his love of spirits with anyone who will listen. He has been a judge for both the NY Spirits Awards Competition and judged alongside industry legends in Paul Pacult's Ultimate Spirits Challenge. Ethan has also been featured as an industry expert on The History Channel, MSNBC, FOX News, and multiple NY Times appearances.

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