Kavalan King Car Conductor

Kavalan King Car Conductor

After yesterday’s unprepossessing and prosaically named Kavalan Single Malt here is another that is at least more extravagantly named. “King Car”, it turns out, is the name of the conglomerate that owns the distillery. As to whether “Conductor” is meant to call up an image of a man in a penguin suit in front of an orchestra or someone selling tickets on a bus, I don’t know but it’s a good job this conglomerate has an evocative name; though it would also be fun to drink a whisky named Taiwan Heavy Industries Limited or similar. But enough meaningless chit-chat. On to the whisky.

The website is no more forthcoming with details about how this is made than they are with the regular Single Malt, but it is distinguished from the other by at least a higher abv: this is at 46%.

Kavalan King Car Conductor (46%; from a purchased sample)

Nose: More spirity and less fruity than the Single Malt. I know this is also a single malt but there’s something grainy about this, or at least plasticky. With more time some fruit does emerge–some citrus, some apricot–along with some hints of honey but it’s all quite restrained. It does get a little richer with time and there’s some polished wood too now. Water expands the apricot and there’s something a little more musky there too now; a hint of ripe pineapple too perhaps.

Palate: Not spirity on the palate. Orange peel and apricot along with a nice malty roundness make the first impression and then there’s some honey and that polished wood. The wood gets a little more assertive on the second sip and now there’s more spice as well (cinnamon). A darker, richer sweetness later but nothing very interesting. Again, as with the Single Malt, a metallic note does get more prominent with time. Water doesn’t do very much.

Finish: Medium. Not a tremendous amount of development. The spicy/woody notes from the tail end of the palate hang on and get a little bit peppery too. Gets sweeter with time and water.

Comments: Unlike the Single Malt this one started out unpromisingly on the nose but then got a lot better. I hate to engage in regional profiling but there is something here that is reminiscent of the Yamazaki 12. On the whole, though, even at its best this is a little generic. I’d happily drink it though in the absence of anything better and if properly priced it would be a worthy competitor for the Aberlour 12 and the younger Glenrothes and similar.

Rating: 82 points.


12 thoughts on “Kavalan King Car Conductor

  1. I think the hype is more for the Solists–there’s nobody that is excited about these more modest bottles (except David Driscoll) and the price is really a head-scratcher. I’ll be reviewing three of the Solists next month.


  2. Thanks for cutting through the bullshit which says that EVERY start-up eager to recoup its initial investment always just happens to make some stunning young product worthy of the high pricing which makes that investment recovery possible. There’s a cottage industry out there which is simply interested in giving these young distilleries and whiskies attention-grabbing, quotable, reviews, and it’s done through a lot of confusion between whisky competence and whisky virtuosity.


    • And Kavalan aren’t really a tiny start-up hard for cash either, as far as I can make out. They’re owned by a large conglomerate. It seems more like high prices are meant to signal high quality and make them stand out in the marketplace. If we’re paying so much it must surely be good–that must be what they’re hoping enough people who pay $110 for the King Car Conductor will say.


      • And the hype will work on some people, as it always does. But will anyone go back to buy a second $110 bottle after opening the first? I seriously doubt it.

        Like you, I found their non-Solist bottlings very underwhelming, and more appropriate for the $20-$30 market. I’m curious to hear what you think of the Solists you’re trying. I tried four: one was decent, one was crummy, the other two okay. But none of them worth hyperbole or high prices


  3. Tried this a couple of days ago. Lots of entry-level malts are better than this, at roughly HALF the price — Yamazaki 12, Cragganmore 12, Aberlour 12, Laddie 10, not to mention some of the more highly regarded ones like Laphroaig 10, Ardbeg 10, and Tali 10. A very bad entry into the US market.


  4. Pingback: Kavalan King Car Conductor – Selfbuilt's Whisky Analysis

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