Ever since I tried my first Karuizawa I’ve been a fan of this distillery’s products. The first one wasn’t even one from a rich sherry cask like only they knew how to do. It was a Japanese wine cask. One of the least popular ones but it sold out quickly nonetheless.
I had more or less promised myself to start collecting whisky from Karuizawa when the craze began about 3 years ago. Before that, the single casks came out at about £ 125 to £ 150 and you had a couple of days to decide whether or not you could spend that money.
Then they got popular. Prices shot up like a missile and they started selling out in minutes. Most of the time, when I saw the update trickle in through my RSS reader I didn’t even have the chance to check my bank account before it was all gone.
Anyway, this is one of the bottles that, back then, I thought affordable. Not cheap, but I could afford it. Now I’d like to differ, but priorities and budgets have changed considerably since then.
Ridiculously intense. There’s a mountain of rancio and sherry notes. Oak, coffee, chocolate, leather, dried plums, pound cake, sandal wood, and some incense. There’s no end to what you can find here, but it’s quite typical for this kind of Karuizawa. After a minute I get pisang goreng and hazelnuts.
It’s very hot on the palate if you come at this untrained and not warmed up. The 63% is very noticable at that, but there are no acetone or alcohol notes. Most flavours that you could smell on the nose are back, although it might be a tad less on the sweet side. There’s toast, seared beef and dried fruit. The heat does not mellow.
The finish is the most old fashioned part of this whisky. Dried and cured leather. Really heavy, but fruity sherry with some nutty notes too. It mellows quickly here, and gives way to more nuts, sherry and dried plums.
This, my friends, is a stunning whisky. I consider myself very lucky to be able to be drinking this and even luckier that there’s still a glass or two left in the bottle. I’m happily finishing that this week, and will be sad to see it go.
If you can find this at a reasonable price, buy it. Don’t expect to find it, however. The last shop that sold it had it for £ 999.95. Insane. Anyway, absolutely delicious.
Karuizawa Noh, 32yo, 1976-2009, 63%, cask #6719. Used to cost anywhere between £ 150 to £ 999.