Tasting: Nantou Omar cask strength single malt – lychee liqueur barrel finish

No, I didn’t make that title up: This is indeed a review of a Taiwanese whisky, finished in lychee liqueur barrels. Made by the state-owned Nantou distillery, this might sound decidedly strange at first, but then again even Scotch distillers these days mature their whisky seemingly in anything they can get their hands on just for the sake of novelty value and ten seconds of online buzz… By the way: Google is coming up empty when searching for “barrel-aged lychee liqueur” so I have no idea if this is indeed a thing or if they did what most distilleries do these days: Order casks with bespoke seasoning done specifically for them… So, let’s dive right in and see what this is all about.

Nantou Omar cask strength single malt - lychee liqueur barrel finish

Dram data:
Distillery: Nantou
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2015
Age: –
Limitation: 700 bottles
Cask: oak, lychee liqueur barrel finish
Alcohol: 51%
natural colour / not chill filtered
Whiskybase link

Colour
Red-Gold

Nose
Strangely enough, this doesn’t nose strange at all! Like… whisky! Many “finishings” feel artificial and overpowering, but this is not the case here! It’s young whisky, but that’s not a fault. We’ve got vanilla, almond blossom, peaches, apricots, your typical “Chinese” mixed tinned fruit salad (yes, containing lychees amongst other assorted fruits), a touch of orange and sweet grape juice with a touch of fragrant oak in the background Very agreeable so far!
Score: 82/100

Taste
Juicy and mouth-coating on the arrival – and quite sweet, too! Demerara sugar mixed with the juice in these Chinese mixed fruit tins – but, of course, with an alcoholic tingle! Extremely fruity! Juicy peaches, dried apricots, sultanas, tinned fruits. Vanilla is there as well and just the tiniest hint of oak. Works surprisingly well…
Score: 83/100

Finish
There’s an initial alcoholic kick on the finish which soon makes way for a sweet mixture of tinned fruits, some vanilla and a slight touch of oak at the end.
Score: 80/100

Verdict
Well, that was quite pleasant indeed. Earth-shattering? No. But nice. Just like lychee liqueur, this would work very well as a digestive drink after a meal, kicking through with its intense fruity sweetness but it also works rather well on its own.
Is there anything else to say? Well, I guess a few words about the availability. Don’t worry if you’ve never come across these bottlings – or anything from Nantou distillery, for that matter. Availability outside of Taiwan is sketchy. It’s the Taiwanese punter’s dram – and some of their other whiskies are fighting in the same league as Kavalan, if you might believe it. But more on that another day – I have a few more samples kicking around – let me know if you want to read about their other wares!
Overall Score: 82/100

Bottle provided kindly by Keith’s dregs.
Check out the archive of all Nantou whiskies I’ve tasted so far!

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