You won’t believe where the world’s best whiskey comes from

Taiwan Whisky Winner
In this Feb. 4, 2010 image shows a visitor walking past casks at the King Car Group's Kavalan Whisky distillery in Ilan, north eastern Taiwan. Taiwan's King Car Group is betting that its dedication to quality can catapult Kavalan whiskey to international success within five years. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Photograph by Wally Santana — AP

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By David Stout @david_m_stout

Taiwan’s Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique is now officially the best single malt whiskey on earth, according to this year’s World Whiskies Awards.

The contest’s judges described the malt as “surprisingly smooth on the palate” and added: “it’s like Bourbon infused milk chocolate.”

“Immediately and subtly liquor rich. Tiny bit of incense, a thread of spice and smoke. Caramel, marzipan, coffee-vanilla, fudge, rich, creamy, dried black fruits, the judges continued, warming to their task. “Element of sandalwood. Starts creamy, waters out, almost disappears before rubbing hot brown sugar into the oesophagus. Tiny bitter trace.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how many other malts the judges had before putting that summary down.

Kalavan Solist is produced at the King Car distillery in northeastern Taiwan’s Yilan County, where the whiskey is aged in American oak barrels that once stored white and red wines.

The distillery, which went operational just a decade ago, has been racking up a plethora of awards in recent years and getting nods from some of the world’s top single-malt connoisseurs. In 2012, the acclaimed guide Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible named Kavalan’s Solist Fino Sherry Cask malt the “new whisky of the year.”

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