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A drink with… Kaitlyn Tsai, Kavalan

Kaitlyn Tsai, brand ambassador and global PR officer for Taiwanese distiller Kavalan, on changing consumers’ perception of world whisky.

Kaitlyn Tsai, brand ambassador and global PR officer for Kavalan

How did you get into whisky?

My childhood memories are of playing in Yilan County’s lush green rice fields. I’ve visited Kavalan Distillery many times since I grew up. The first time I tried whisky neat was at the public tasting area at the distillery.

In 2014, I thought Kavalan was magnificent in creating a new category in the global industry – Taiwanese whisky – something that had not been promoted much, and I really wanted to be part of the Kavalan team.

Can you tell me about your role as brand ambassador?

I interact with our blending team, the marketing department and sales representatives. I also travel internationally, sharing our brand story and whisky portfolio, and representing Kavalan at whisky shows and festivals.

A lot of my work used to involve hosting in‐person events and tastings, but these have been moved online during the crisis. I will conduct more virtual tastings with whisky clubs from all around the world.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

My favourite part is introducing Kavalan by engaging with consumers and guiding them through the history, craftsmanship, unique aromas and flavours they can experience. I am so delighted to see people change their minds to be more open‐minded to world whisky after tasting Kavalan.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

Maintaining a professional manner and high energy levels despite a tight schedule. I am always conscious that this might be the first and only time I present to my audiences.

Another challenging aspect is having to be an information sponge and a quick learner of anything related to whisky. However, that’s also the part I enjoy a lot – learning about the innovation in our whisky production process, food‐pairing ideas, different drinking cultures, and gaining knowledge of whisky from self‐learning and speaking with enthusiasts, bartenders and whisky experts.

What do you hope to achieve with Kavalan over the next few years?

Aside from the brand ambassador part, I would really like to get involved in our brand upgrade, changing the positioning and brand character to help communicate the brand’s identity. I will also keep working on interesting media content, discussing the legacy, complexity and potential for innovation in Kavalan.

What trends are you seeing in the whisky category?

Before the first new make in the country rolled off our stills in March 2006, it seemed impossible to produce whisky in a warm sub‐tropical climate. I would say Kavalan has given people in Taiwan confidence that the country has huge potential in making quality whiskies better than everywhere else in the world.

There will be more businesses invested in building new distilleries and making whiskies in Taiwan. Just like Scotland and Japan, the whisky sector will boom in Taiwan and shine globally. We are thrilled to see each Taiwanese distillery creating its own unique characteristics and representing Taiwanese whisky on the global stage.

What’s in the pipeline for Kavalan in the coming year?

As a company in its second decade, Kavalan innovates every year. In the first half of 2020, we launched our first ready‐to‐drink products, Kavalan Highball Whisky Soda and Gin & Tonic, as well as Kavalan Distillery Select No.2 Single Malt Whisky, to capture a broader market.

Next year we will continue to expand our global presence and bring more surprises to excite whisky drinkers. You can expect many more additions to our ranges, such as the Solist series, and in terms of the different casks used, as well as our gin range. In addition, peated malt whiskies under maturation are going to satisfy whisky fans in the future.

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