Karuizawa 1964, 57.7% – Number One Drinks

Short review:
Best whisky ever.

Long review:
When I saw the first reviews of the Karuizawa 1964 from Number One Drinks, Wealth Solutions and Master of Malt it did cross my mind that there was a chance I would get a sample too. Just like the Glenfarclas from last year.

Right after that I thought: Why on earth would they do that? There is only one bottle for sale and that will go to some investor anyway, not to someone who reads my wee blog.

Karuizawa 1964
After a few days I did get a sample, though. I was absolutely thrilled and my mood that day cannot be described by many words. Maybe ecstatic comes close. I decided to wait for an appropriate moment to taste it and not just on some work day after customers/project managers/bosses have been riding me but on a quiet day, on a quiet moment in which the phone is turned off, no tv and such.

Last Sunday was that day. I prepared myself well. Did all kinds of chores around the house, poured a can of water, set up my notebook, pen and glass and told the misses to stay out of my ‘whisky room’ for a bit. Then I opened the wee bottle with all necessary respect, and poured a glass.

When I first sniffed it, the cat started whining and the tumble drier was done, so the moment was interrupted a bit. However, that first whiff from the glass made the day and I didn’t even get grumpy because of all that (I am prone to get grumpy by a lot of things).

Warning: endless proze about booze following:

When I got back from releasing the cat from the attic and turning off the drier my entire little room smelled of whisky. Good whisky, mind! Wood, polished leather, furniture polish, fresh pineapple, peach and apricot.

Polish bog oak boxNow let’s get in the glass: Sherry and milk chocolate. Lots of fruit with hints of mint and basil. There’s quite some oak too, with sawdust, antique furniture and leather. It gets a tad dry with ginger, sour cherries, plums, raisins, and Christmas cake. Weirdly enough, there is a hint of rubber, but in a nice way to keep things exciting. Later I get almond and sandalwood.

It’s sharp, with mint, pine needles, pine forests and lots of fruit again. Quite some alcohol, quite some pepper and a little dryness like you get when you lick a rubber band. It gets a bit warmer after all that but stays sharp. There’s something a little creamy or greasy in there too, along with espresso and dark chocolate.

The finish gives more wood and forest. It keeps that rubber note (which I really start to enjoy) which then slowly fades to give room to truckloads of candied and dried fruit. Drying again and long, with plums, candied orange peels, almond, sour cherries, dark chocolate and espresso.

What it's all aboutNow with water, since I just had to try that too! A little bit, mind you, I don’t want to drown this precious liquid.

It gets a bit drier with a drop of water, if such a thing is possible. Also, slightly less intense. A bit of freshness is added, more mint and pine needles. Mellowed is the right word, and in this situation I kind of dislike that.

Sip & Swallow:
Smoother, with more vanilla and pastry cream, more wood. Very different in that regard, but still rather sharp and with some crushed black pepper.

So, what did I think? To be honest, like I said at the beginning in the excerpt of this all, I think it is seriously my number one dram. Coincidentally it’s bottled by Number One Drinks.

The complexity of this whisky is staggering, and you really have to take a carefully planned and prepared moment to enjoy all of this. It needs it, and it deserves it. The fruit, spices and everything else going on is perfectly balanced and the sharpness with sandalwood and coffee only add to the ‘Japanese’ feeling of this whisky.

It’s very much a Karuizawa, but as far as I know the best one ever. I usually don’t really pay much attention to age and such, but in this case it seems Karuizawa really benefits from a couple of decades behind staves.

Karuizawa 1964, 48 years old, bottled by Number One Drinks for Wealth Solutions and Master of Malt, 57.7%. It’s available at Master of Malt for £ 9495.

Official sample provided by Master of Malt. Thanks a million guys! Forever in your debt.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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9 Responses to Karuizawa 1964, 57.7% – Number One Drinks

  1. Sounds very very good. nice one mate!
    i wonder how we would rate it if given blind without knowing its a freaking 1964 which costs more than a used car.
    i guess we shall never know.

    hoping to pop mine open over the weekend.


    • I think if you give it it’s proper respect it gets high on your list regardless of the price. I think the ridiculous amount of money required to buy a bottle only works as a deterrent to me. As in: this has to be insanely good instead of just being happy with it.

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