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Their Story

The First Privately Owned Whisky Distillery In Taiwan

The King Car Group, founded by Mr. TT Lee in 1956, has decades of experience in food and beverage, but producing whisky has always been the founder’s dream. In 2002, Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization, which allowed the establishment of a privately owned distillery in Taiwan for the first time in modern history.

The Kavalan Distillery

Construction on the distillery began in early 2005 and was completed in only nine months. The vision for the whisky was overseen by Master Blender Ian Chang in collaboration with world-renowned whisky consultant Dr. Jim Swan. The distillery is comprised of Scottish style copper pot stills from Scotland made by the Forsyths Company, as well as Holstein stills. Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks to protect it from the sub-tropical climate of Taiwan. Kavalan began distilling trial runs in early 2006, with the first drop of new make spirit emerging from the stills on March 11, 2006, one year after construction on the distillery had begun. To combat the high heat and humidity of Taiwan, the spirit vapors are cooled using both tube condensers and sub-coolers. The five-story warehouse houses 30,000 casks tied together because of the high risk of earthquakes in the region. The top floors of this warehouse can reach up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit, causing an angel’s share of no less than 15% annually.

Taiwanese Terroir

Kavalan, which means “flatland people,” is named after the Taiwanese aboriginal ethnic group that originally inhabited modern-day Yilan County, where the distillery is located. Yilan was chosen for its proximity to the cold spring water of Snow Mountain and the salty Pacific Ocean air. The subtropical heat and high humidity of Yilan cause an accelerated maturation, ensuring a rich, complex whisky in just a few years. At Kavalan, it is referred to as “maturity redefined.” Since its release in 2008, Kavalan has received dozens of international whisky awards and titles, beating out traditional Scottish, American and Japanese brands, and causing a seismic shift in the world of whisky and conversation about aging.