The first dram of 2016 is one we managed to purchase a sample off in a bottle share. This Karuizawa expression was distilled in 1984, matured in Sherry Cask #3663 and bottled at 56.8% in 2013 at 29 years old. More information on this bottling can be found here and below some information found online about this distillery:
Karuizawa was actually a vineyard in 1955 when then-owner Daikoku-budoshu decided to enter a Japanese whisky industry still in it’s infancy, and base a distillery in the shadow of active volcano, Mount Asama. In 1962, it then merged with current owner, Mercian.
The distillery is tiny and the aim is traditional, small-scale production to create quality whiskies. Karuizawa uses 100% Golden Promise barley, wooden washbacks, small stills and sherry casks sourced from Spain.
Karuizawa’s whiskies are perhaps the closest you’ll find to the Scottish malt style in Japan but they still have their own unique character. The water has been filtered through lava and the distillery also experiences very hot summers and extremely cold winters which results in a different maturation profile.
When pouring this in the glass you can smell already the thick and fruity flavours. Looking forward to this one for some while now and waited for a good moment to open it. A new year, new chances and opportunities is something that I thought was fitting of celebrating with a amazing dram.
Rich and creamy nose with loads of cherries, blackcurrant and raspberries. Making me think of a lush desert cake with lots of fruits, chocolate and whipped cream. There is a light wood and leather note running through it but lovely balanced with the rich vanilla custard. Freshness of lemon curd, sugared lemon sweets and equaliptus. Almost something of beeswax maybe with dark spicy notes.
Dark and sweet on the palate showing dark chocolate, coffee and lots of vanilla and raisins. Much of the nose comes back lovely and there is a strong black pepper present within this all with fresh ginger. Liquerish and strong summer fruit notes, red apples, banana, elderflower, red summer fruit and fudge. Ohmy… what a beautiful dram. Very rich and balanced with a long finish. Scoring it an 9 out of 10. Have a great 2016 and lets keep discovering great drams!