Karuizawa, Noh Whisky, 1977-2008, 62.8%

The Karuizawas that came out when they were only starting to get popular were bottlings that were of stunning quality, and fairly affordable compared to a lot of other bottlings by Scottish distilleries. Those times have come and gone and now you really have to sell a kidney if you want any of their bottlings. Especially since they sell out in about 30 seconds.

This Karuizawa is a bottling from the Noh series, which means that they are bottled with a label of a Japanese kami or something like that. It always reminds me a little bit of Butoh dancers. In this case the label apparently depicts Ama the Fisher-girl. I don’t know any other facts about this, but the label looks nice.

The whisky then. Of course, the distillery has been closed for little over a decade now. Number One Drinks bought all remaining stock and is slowly releasing it, mostly through The Whisky Exchange and La Maison du Whisky in Paris. This bottling is, of course, from a sherry butt.

Sniff:
The smack in your face you get at first is mostly leather, leather wax and furniture polish. There’s a hint of fresh mint with lots of dried fruits behind that. Apricots, plums, dates, the lot. I also get some crumble pastry. Rather dry, which I like, and quite some oak. Not overly so, but on the brink. No surprise, since most Japanese whiskies are very wood-driven.

Karuizawa Noh. Image from Whiskybase

Karuizawa Noh. Image from Whiskybase

Sip:
Again, the impact is phenomenal. It’s a bit lighter in flavour, but the flavours that are apparent are huge. Some pepper, mint again. Oak, leather, dried fruits. sherry. I also get a hint of base paint, but in a rather pleasant way.

Swallow:
The finish is warming with stewed fruits and oak. Everything that came before is present too. The apricots, plums and dates together with the sherry blast with leather and all is lovely.

This is one of my favourite whiskies, especially in my collection. But, also in general. It’s not on a level with the 1964 I got a miniature of from Master of Malt et al, but the difference isn’t that big either. Surprisingly close.

In short, a stunning whisky with a lot of flavours that are screaming for your attention. It can swim a bit, but although it’s almost 63% I think this should be enjoyed carefully and neat. As neat as possible at least.

Karuizawa, Noh Whisky, ‘Ama the Fisher-girl’, bottled for LMDW, 1977-2008, 62.8%.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm a web developer at Emakina. I'm highly interested in booze, with a focus on whisk(e)y. I like to listen to loads of music and read quite some books. I'm married to Anneke, have a daughter Ot, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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2 Responses to Karuizawa, Noh Whisky, 1977-2008, 62.8%

  1. You might’ve seen it already, but Tim F’s account of The Whisky Exchange’s visit to Japan to check out the remaining Karuizawa casks can be found here: http://blog.thewhiskyexchange.com/2013/04/twe-karuizawa-whisky-trip-pt-8-japanese-whisky-bars/ (incl. links back to earlier posts). Definitely worth a read!

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