Recently I received a package of samples containing some new releases from The Whisky Exchange. In there were some elements of Islay (to be reviewed) and some Japanese drams. Four Karuizawas to be exact.
Since I tasted my first Karuizawa after a guess buy of the first Noh release I was hooked. Back then they were more or less affordable and not sold out in 30 minutes after being released. Those were the days…
This one, however, is a very strange one since it’s a bourbon cask. Karuizawa is famous for their ridiculously good sherry casks. Also they (if I’m not mistaken) used Golden Promise barley, so they were quite like Macallan in the old days. Of course, the Japanese bit makes it quite different.
Very rich with an odd combination of mint, leather and lots of dry wood. Very spicy, saw dust and cinnamon sticks. Also some furniture polish.
Full and not too sharp. Karuizawa usually comes in weighing above 60 % ABV. It’s a bit hot though, so that might be a Japanese thing instead of purely an alcohol thing. Chili pepper, peppercorns, wood, leather wax, leather, mint, cinnamon and a hint of crumbly old paper. Quite some small hints of dark forest fruits. Brambles, cherries, strawberries. Some citrus fruit as well, but very faint.
The finish is almost endless with heaps and heaps of flavour. Furniture lacquer. Light hints of strawberries, wood. A strange note that reminds me of the woody stalks of bushes, not trees. More ‘twig’ than ‘trunk’, if that makes any sense.
For the odd one out, this being a bourbon matured dram, it’s bloody terrific. If our whisky club hadn’t released a BenRiach 1976 this week, I’d have bought this. I guess they’re almost gone and the only reason it’s still available is the maturation and ABV, I guess.
There is layer upon layer of flavour so this will keep you busy and it doesn’t come cheap at £ 179. Every pound is worth it in my book.
Karuizawa 1982, 1st fill bourbon cask matured, cask #8497, 46% £ 179. Only available at The Whisky Exchange.