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Ask most whisky drinkers about Taiwanese whisky, and they'll probably respond with "Taiwanese whisky? You mean Kavalan?"
Whilst Kavalan undoubtedly produce some incredible Taiwanese whiskies (which we toured here), they're not the only ones. State-owned Nantou Whisky Distillery, in the central east of Taiwan have been producing single malt whisky since 2008, and - judging by what I've tasted over the years – are doing a great job of it.
On a recent trip to Taiwan I picked up a pack of two 200mL bottles for A$92 from Nantou Whisky Distillery at Taipei airport. Each contains a single cask, cask-strength Nantou "OMAR" expression – one ex-Bourbon (5yo) and one ex-Sherry (6yo).
Both were impressive, and even more so when you consider their relative short maturation.
Nantou OMAR Cask Strength ex-Sherry Cask #21091313
Nose: Berry sweetness leads to red apples, milk chocolate and hints of oak.
Palate: Quite tannic and dry, with sweetbread, pot-pourri and berry notes, followed by a slight nuttiness (Brazil nuts) and raisins. Water brings the oak out a little more – I suspect this was a fairly active cask.
Finish: Long, slightly tannic and with lots of sweet oak.
Details: 58.4% ABV, A$92 as a set of two bottles from Taipei Airport.
Nantou OMAR Cask Strength ex-Bourbon Cask #11110097
Colour: Light golden straw.
Nose: Grassy and herbaceous at first, with a fair amount of coconut and pencil shavings. After some time comes hints of tropical fruit, and some milk bottle lollies.
Palate: Rich and viscous. Initially dry, but after time a sweetness emerges, along with pineapple and mango notes. Water adds some oak and caramel chews.
Finish: Long, smooth and very creamy. Just the right balance of sweetness.
Rating: 91/100. An incredibly complex whisky considering it's only been maturing (albeit in Taiwan's climate) for 5 years., delicious and easily my pick of the two.
Details: 54.1% ABV, A$92 as a set of two bottles from Taipei Airport.