5 Questions to Masters – Ian Chang of KAVALAN
As the first part of a series of Meleklerin Payı Master interviews “5 Questions to a Master”, I’d like to present Master Distiller of the Year Mr Ian Chang
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KAVALAN is a relatively new (2006) whisky distillery from Taiwan, however it created quite a fan base in quite short time with a range of exceptional whiskies. I remember the first moment I tasted a Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask by the River Seine in Paris. It was quite a shock for me to experience this richness and intensity for a somewhat younger whisky. I wrote my tasting notes on my website some time later, but didnt even look at my notes in my tasting notebook, the aromas were so vivid and almost embedded in my nose & brain.
I was in London for the Whisky Live when Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique was announced as the Best Single Malt of the Year. Meeting Ian Chang, the Master of Kavalan, humbly presenting his great work at the stand, was one of the highlights of that event.
Another whisky legend, Charles MacLean was at the Whisky Show London this year, and it was my privilege to be with him when he first tasted the Vinho Barrique.
As the first part of a series of Meleklerin Payı Master interviews “5 Questions to a Master”, I’d like to present Master Distiller of the Year Mr Ian Chang:
5 Questions to Masters – Ian Chang of KAVALAN
How and where did your love for whisky begin?
I have been working with Kavalan for about ten years now since graduating from the university in the UK with a food science degree, which I must admit is very helpful to me to be in the spirits industry i.e. flavour chemistry.
I was invited to come for an interview for the position of a researcher in the R&D team back in 2005, and after a series of sensory tests, I was recruited. Now, I am the blender of Kavalan whisky. My love for whisky actually started when I started the university in the UK when I used to drink it with my Taiwanese compatriots during weekend gatherings during and after meals!
Can you tell us briefly about an ordinary day at work?
Normally, I work more than 10 hours a day at the distillery, catching up with some email when I am in the office in the morning, nosing samples between 10:00 and 16:00 since this is the period and also the best time for the palate to be very sharp and sensitive. After 5pm, reading and analysing the results from the GCMS and HPLC…instruments in the laboratory is also part of the daily routine.
I have been travelling a lot for ambassadorial trips lately since three years ago when Kavalan whisky started its export to the globe. Although working with such a busy schedule everyday, I keep learning things everyday from my job. This is probably “The best job in the world” in my own opinion!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Having been named by the IWSC for being the Asia Pacific’s Spirit Producer three times in a row and the Master Distiller of the Year 2015 have been the highlight of my career so far and hopefully the good result will continue. However, the most rewarding part is to see satisfied consumers worldwide who enjoy Kavalan!
Over the last 20 years do you observe a change in the profile of whisky enthusiasts and their taste patterns; how does that affect your whisky making?
We do realize that the age profile of the consumers in Taiwan is getting younger and younger which is a very good news and phenomenon to see. They also love to try and taste new stuffs. The future of whisky making here in Taiwan is actually looking very bright as I have also heard that there are more and more F&B (food and beverage) companies that are interested in producing whisky now that they have witnessed the success of Kavalan which is owned by King Car company (one of the top 3 F&B companies in Taiwan). With whisky aficionados around the globe continue to reach and search for quality and unique whiskies, Taiwanese single malts, with our unique geography, climate and abundant natural resources, shall keep offering fantastic characters for consumers world-wide to enjoy.
How would you describe your brand’s signature taste?
The combination of our craftsmanship and great cask selection contribute to the unique flavours of Kavalan whisky. It is incredibly smooth, mellow and creamy with those fragrant, pleasant and tropical fruity and sweet characters. I would say that both the flavour and aroma of Kavalan are unique from all other single malt whiskies. At Kavalan, we want you to taste the richness of life to the fullest!!!