Karuizawa

   

Karuizawa distillery

Region: Japan

Location: Just west of the town of Karuizawa

Status: Closed (More distillery info here)

General whisky characteristics: Dark fruit, toffee and smoked ham

   

 

   

Karuizawa, 15y, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Dram-atics "Advent-urous" live review

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich, dark aged oak

Nose: Sherry with lots of dark fruits like raisins, black cherries, currants, plus some sweet aged oak.

Palate: Sweet plums, raisins and is that a little smoke which accompanies the palate into the finish?

Finish: Very long with those dark fruits and a hint of scorched wood, but not quite smoky, right at the end.

Overall impression: Some superb flavours but maybe the overall experience was slightly weakened by the fact that at 40% it's just a little thin. GIve me 46% and it would be magnificent.

 

   
   

Karuizawa, distilled 1981, bottled 12.8.2011, 55.2% ABV

Cask No.2634

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ to €€€€€ ???

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Very dark liquid treacle toffee

Nose: Treacle toffee, rich almonds and smouldering wood with frequent floral hints and suggestions of dark chocolate. and coffee beans.

Palate: Treacle toffee (again!) Massive figs, prunes, plums and black cherries. Almost finest espresso and dark chocolate.

Finish: Extremely long and full power

Overall impression: Marvellous, what a star. An absolute "Great".

Revisited in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 

   
   

Karuizawa, distilled 1981, bottled 12.8.2011, 58.3% ABV

Cask No.6207

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ to €€€€€ ???

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Teak

Nose: Slightly dry wood with a very aromatic wax polish. After some minutes I sense an almost strawberry jam effect, but with lots of wood and that polish.

Palate: Initially wood with hints of banana stem, then followed by peppery vanilla and after more minutes there's floral sweet toffee.

Finish: Very long floral and rich, ever expanding.

Overall impression: Another true "Great". Marvellous, simply marvellous.

Revisited in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 

   
   

Karuizawa, distilled 1981, bottled 2011, 57.5% ABV

Cask No.6256

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ to €€€€€ ???

Reviewed as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich glowing amber

Nose: Richly aromatic polished antique oak, antique leather furniture then occasional sweet floral bursts and lightly toasted raisins.

Palate: Large initial tingle, white pepper? Then rich wood and toffee, faint banana and black cherries. Lots happening here!

Finish: Long and eventful

Overall impression: Can it be 3/3 for "Greatness"? Indeed it can, another truly "Great" single cask from Karuizawa.

 

   
 

 

No.1 Drinks Karuizawa, distilled 1984, bottled 2012, 61.6% ABV

Sherry Butt, Cask No.3692, one of 359 bottles

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2012

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark, very dark.

Nose: Delightfully rich and heavy and just a light rubberiness. This expands slightly to an image of a rubber dinghy moored at an Atlantic pier at high tide. I could really swim in this nose.

Palate: Rich and massive, tingly, lightly rubbery and oaky. Almonds, walnuts, cherries, prunes and a hint of gentle peat bog.

Finish: Long and very rich. Just a hint of spent match right at end.

Overall impression: Life is good, very good, pass this around after a good steak or duck dinner. Truly magnificent and a "Great".

Revisited in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 

   
 

 

The Whisky Exchange Karuizawa, 1982 - 2012, 46% ABV

First Fill Bourbon Cask No.8497

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2012

Revisited in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Gently glowing golden brass.

Nose Aromatic earthy flora, maybe English cottage herb garden alongside spring bulbs. Was that a sudden hint of spent match? Perhaps more like bonfire or BBQ embers at the end of a summer day in the garden?

Palate: Wonderfully fruity with hints of creamy peach that tingle and tantalise. Crθme caramel? Tiramisu?  Maybe even marinated trifle base?

Finish: Delightfully long with that tiramisu really coming to the fore now.

Overall impression: A very good, nay excellent fruity whisky with a depth of tiramisu and light cappuccino. It may not be as heavy and rich as some other distillery examples, but maybe it exhibits a slightly different distillery style and one which is extremely commendable.

 

   
   

The Whisky Exchange Karuizawa, 1984 - 2012, 64.5% ABV

Cask No.4021

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich cork with a hint of coppery bronze.

Nose: Immensely fragrant with a herbal leafiness alongside a suggestion of figs and maybe dates. Whoa ... wait a minute .. is that really the aroma of freshly roasted pork coming through now? Surely not smoky bacon crisps too? Yes, I really believe so. Magnificent!

Palate: Big, massive, powerful, bold and personnifies everything from the nose including the smoky bacon crisps. Especially the smoky bacon crisps.

Finish: This may eventually end, one day.

Overall impression: I'm a happy man, very happy and I'm about to use that word again "Great"

 

   
 

 

No.1 Drinks Karuizawa, 1983 - 2012, 62.1% ABV

No.1 Drinks for LMDW "Cocktail Series", Bourbon Cask No.8597

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2012

Revisited in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Amber.

Nose: Earthy and very lightly toasted in character and expanding with a faint rubbery leatheriness. After some minutes I'm also detecting suggestions of dark chocolate and fresh coffee. This is jam-packed full of character. 

Palate: Initially creamy-smooth and then caressed by  a rich tingle comprising hints of fresh fruit, an earthiness, leather and rubber. Why am I reminded of a very good cognac here? 

Finish: Very long and delightful.

Overall impression: This edition of Karuizawa comes from LMDW's "Cocktail Series" and I have to ask "Do people really want to use this in cocktails?" I guess my Old Luddite-ness is rearing its overly-traditional head here?  Anyway I still won't hesitate to use that word again "Great".

 

   
 

 

No.1 Drinks Karuizawa, 1964-2012, 48y, 57.7% ABV

Bottled for Wealth Solutions, Poland. Cask No.3603

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark amber with a tinge of copperiness.

Nose: Fragrant, very fragrant with amazingly delicate flora alongside a lightly perfumed antique woodiness. After some minutes it suggests its age with a light mustiness but with more time it expands and further develops those wonderfully delicate floral notes.

Palate: This just bursts forth onto the front of the tongue. This is very much alive! The floral notes from the nose are now dancing across the palate. Ahhh peach melba with gently perfumed (English) Christmas cake.

Overall impression: A truly magnificent and vibrant whisky. A "Great" by a country mile, or two but I'll not mention the price; as the old saying goes "If you have to ask the price you probably can't afford it".

 

   

 

 

 

Karuizawa 'noh', 28y, distilled 1983, bottled 2012, 57.2% ABV

Sherry Butt, Cask No.7576, one of 571 bottles

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€ to €€€€€

Reviewed as part of MMA 2012

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark, treacle toffee

Nose: Rich dark fruits marinated in sherry. Just a hint of aged oak then expanding with more rich and aromatic influences. It just gets better and better with time.

Palate: Massively earthy. An almost maritime rich dark fruitiness with accompanying nuttiness. Massive, rich & heavy but very balanced and co-ordinated. Civilised.

Finish: Long, delightfulyl rich and luxurious.

Overall impression: This is massive but at the same time very balanced and harmonious. A true "Great" by a country mile or three.

Revisited in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 

   

 

 

 

No.1 Drinks for The Whisky Exchange, Karuizawa, 48% ABV

The Spirit of Asama (48% version)

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Slightly dull cork.

Nose: Initially slightly farmy whilst also offering what I can only describe as a maritime woodiness with just a hint of spent match. This all develops with time to include a custard style creaminess and just a suggestion of liquorice.

Palate: This just personnifies the nose and also has a slightly watery mouth-feel. Perhaps a slightly higher abv would help here?

Finish: Very pleasantly long.

Overall impression: Make no mistake this is good, very good, even excellent but I feel it needs just a little more ooomph.

 

   
 

 

No.1 Drinks for The Whisky Exchange, Karuizawa, 55% ABV

The Spirit of Asama (55% version)

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed in February 2013 by "Dram-atics" in a 10-way Karuizawa H2H

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light amber.

Nose: This offers a selection of dried herbs with just the faintest suggestion of a very aromatic Alpine cheese. A warm woodiness develops which is reminiscent of bonfire embers.

Palate: A very smooth and creamy mouth-feel, a suggestion of crθme caramel?  A dark fruitiness akin to figs, prunes, dates and cherries - almost but not quite. Freshly ground coffee beans? Again almost, but not quite.

Finish: Long and slightly dry, again with almost coffee beans.

Overall impression: The few extra abv really do help here as it has the ooomph that the 48% version lacks.

 

   

 

  Some older (IB) single cask vintages  
     

Karuizawa, distilled 1975, 30y, 63.6% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Toffee and linseed

Palate: I only have brief notes which say this was far too aggressive with too much alcohol burn masking any flavours.

Overall impression: Maybe I didn't get enough to experiment with this one which is a shame as it held much promise from the nose if I could have experimented more with water. It was certainly too aggressive without water.

 
     

Karuizawa, distilled 1977, 28y, cask 7026, 63% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Delicious black forest (Schwarzwald) ham

Palate: Again lots of alcohol in this one but the palate offers more of that black forest ham promised by the nose and also rich toffee.

Overall Impression: A good Japanese whisky with plenty of smoky ham notes over rich toffee. I like it.

 
     

Karuizawa, distilled 1980, cask 348, 57.9% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Faint smoke with raisins and wine

Palate: Warm and gentle with smoke and more ham.

Overall Impression: This one feels and tastes quite 'big'. I like it.

 
     

Karuizawa, distilled 1986, 19y, cask 6206, 56.3% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Vanilla ice cream with custard

Palate: Smoke, subtle toffee and caramel.

Overall Impression: Lots of delicious dessert flavours. I like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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