Karuizawa 1964 is one of the last remaining 1960s casks of Kurizawa that survived until 2012. This 48-year-old edition is also the oldest Karuizawa whisky to enter the market. Additionally, it is the oldest Japanese single cask whisky in history*.
There are only 143 numbered bottles of this beverage on the market. Therefore, a special booklet about Karuizawa was created by David Broom, one of the most recognised whisky critics around the globe and a columnist for Whisky Magazine. Each bottle of Karuizawa 1964/2012 will be accompanied with this booklet.
The distillery was established in 1955 by Daikoku-budoshu. The owner decided to build the facility in the town of Karuizawa located in the foothills of the active Asama volcano, a popular tourist destination in Japan.
Karuizawa was a small distillery producing alcoholic beverages with the use of traditional methods. In pursuit of the highest quality, Karuizawa was contained in casks previously filled with sherry and imported from Spain. Similar to its equivalent from the home of whisky, Scotland, Karuizawa is aged in sherry casks. However, the flavour of whisky is also influenced by local features that give it its unique character. Spring water drawn from the volcanic hills of Asama, freezing winters and hot summers are all hinted at in the flavour of this beverage and make it truly one of a kind. Karuizawa is very rich and aromatic with a distinct sherry profile.
Karuizawa used to produce whisky on a small-scale and was rather focused on the domestic market. This continued from its establishment in 1955 until 2000 when the production was ceased. Although whisky is no longer produced, there were still some casks left, but every year the number decreases. Currently, there are only 300 Karuizawa casks in the world. Three-quarters of these date back to the 1990s, and there are only 14 casks left from the 1960s.
Unfortunately for Karuizawa, it gained world recognition only after it ceased production. Since 2006, Karuizawa whisky has been reaching whisky lovers from all around the world thanks to the Number One Drinks company. When the world heard about Karuizawa, it immediately fell in love with the beverage produced in the foothills of the Asama mountain. Karuizawa won 12 golden medals from Number One Drinks, awarded by the Malt Maniacs group (the most important global organisation of whisky critics and connoisseurs.)
As Karuizawa is no longer licensed to produce alcoholic beverages and the building of the distillery has a new owner, there will be no new casks on the market. No one knows when the last whisky will be bottled.
This magnifico bottle was just launched on Feb 13 in Warsaw. Colour: rich amber. Nose: rather than smoky and chocolaty like some other old Karuizawas could be, this one is full of overripe fruits and the jams made thereof, with many spices and sappy ‘things’ in the background. In fact, it’s quite extraordinary. Strawberries with menthol? Figs and marzipan? Dates and liquorice? Quinces with some putty? There’s even something coastal that’s growing and growing, but the whole rather makes me think of some glorious very old but terrifyingly vibrant sherried Speysider that would have sucked a little extra-menthol out of a magnificent cask. And maybe a little beef stock at the same time… With water: Karuizawa really loves water, the whisky became even more fabulous and incredibly complex. Some fruitcake especially made for a very wealthy and completely mad dictator? Mouth (neat): what the hell is this? I’ve never found this is any malt whisky… Some kind of overripe tropical fruits, maybe longans? There’s also this curious cheesy side, absolutely wonderful (in this context!) New Comté or other fruity Jurassian cheese? There’s also a lot of oak, which is normal, but what’s important, I think, is that it’s all perfectly integrated. Add to that some tangerine liqueur, black pepper, cumin, cloves, grape pips (ha, resveratrol!)… All that is very big, it’s almost a monster of a whisky. With water: these wonderfully strange notes grew even bigger. Swiss cheese with mango jam. Finish: endless, with the spices singing many songs. No I won’t list them all, do not worry. Bitter chocolate in the aftertaste (tannins, but no worries). Comments: first it’s brilliant whisky, and second, it’s ‘different’ whisky. Respect. I’m sorry, but that’ll be SGP:571 - 95 points.
|Classification||Japanese Single Malt Whisky|
|# Released bottle||143|
|Bottler||Number One Drink for Wealth Solutions|
|Bottling Date||December 2012|
|ABV/ Volume||57.7%/ 70cl|