Taiwanese whisky beats Scotch on Burns Night weekend
A television advert for Taiwan's Kavalan whisky

It seemed impossible, and head taster Charles MacLean thought the result might be a joke...

But, when British newspaper The Times lined up a selection of whiskies to be blind taste tested for Burns Night weekend, the outcome took everyone by surprise.

Alongside some three-year-old Scotch whiskies, the selection included two rather more left-field drams.

The first, the St George's Chapter 3, is the first "genuine" (meaning it is over three-years-old) whisky from the English Whisky Company. It has already scored praise from the editor of the Whisky Bible and achieved lightning-quick sales.

Secondly, Taiwan's two-year-old Kavalan has won a silver award in the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

Selling a spirit a mere two years after distillation as whisky would be considered ignorant by whisky connoisseurs - and it would be illegal in to sell a two-year-old as Scotch whisky in Scotland.

Nevertheless, Kavalan's makers argue that its whisky matures faster in a warmer climate.

Eventually, however, the tastes spoke for themselves. The four judges picked the Kavalan as the best of the selection with a rating of 27.5/40, much to their own surprise.

MacLean compared the taste to "tropical fruit jam". Behind the Kavalan, the St George's also compared credibly, but not so well to be a shock.

Whisky has gradually found a firm footing in Asia over the past century and - with both consumption and production on the up - the region's market continues to grow.

Japanese whisky has reached high standards, while Singapore is the fourth largest importer in the world by volume.

Taiwan is late to the party but, after its success at The Times' tasting event, no one can fault its entrance.

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