Dram Review: Whisky Magazine Japan Spirit Safe Karuizawa 19 Years

[60.8%・19 Years Old・Distilled in 1991・Bottled in 2010・Whisky Magazine Japan Bottling for Oxfam・Cask No. 3206・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

A substantially malty number, quite obviously alcoholic with some underlying notes of toffee, cereal, vanilla biscuits and burnt butter.

Palate & Finish:

The dough-y biscuity note seems to be the theme of the dram.  The spirit is untamed with oily honey flowing through hot spices, the malty characters continue to ooze out.

The spices continue to hiss like dying fireworks, still remarkably malty.

Thoughts:

A big dram that packs some serious hotness..

I suppose this is all for charity..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Karuizawa “Aqua of Life” Aged 35 Years

[55.0%・35 Years Old・Bottled in 2015・The Number One Drinks Company Bottling・Cask No. 7417・Single Cask Release of 473 Bottles]

Nose:

An utterly woody setting with strong Karuizawa influences, meaty and leathery with a splash of black peppercorn, very indulgently Sherried and carrying hints of matchstick and gunpowder. The rustic spirit gives an incredible bone broth oiliness with some earthy and umami notes. In time it grows more charming with more ripe dark fruits.

Palate & Finish:

Great, powerful dark fruits providing an explosion of sweetness that feels full on and marginally on the hot side. Big Sherry being forceful with some Sichuan spices alongside juicy raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon. The oak sticks to the tongue whilst light fruits and menthol faintly exist in the background.

The wood-led tannins overwhelm in the finish leaving the tongue a bit numbed.

Thoughts:

A dram that certainly ticks the box for big Sherry Bomb tragics but perhaps a bit lost in the oak. The Aqua of Life carries such immense pride and strength even at this advanced stage. It’s a proud Karuizawa, respectable but perhaps it’s just a tad too rough to be a geisha..

✓ [Recommended if you like the distillery/style]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Karuizawa Noh 21 Years Old (Cask No. 6149)

[63.6%・21 Years Old・Distilled in 1994・Bottled in 2016・The Number One Drinks Company Bottling・Cask No. 6149・Single Cask Release of 380 Bottles]

Nose:

Quite malty on the nose at first but then the peat cuts in assertively and perhaps somewhat unexpectedly early.  Honey, heather and dry herbs follow, in time the dram grows smokier with a distinct dirty diesel note.

Palate & Finish:

The dram leads with big lemony sweetness with a hint of saltiness, some Manuka honey with the malt being quite sturdy and gentle as the peat arrives in a dry, herbal manner.  The honey sweetness on the palate sticks on and allows a hint shortbread to develop.

The peat falls softer and softer in the finish and eventually disappears, leaving behind a bitter burnt toast note.

Thoughts:

I suppose if you are a Karuizawa collector, whether or not this is rather noticeably peated matters little, though I do find this to be interesting enough. Quite close to scoring one star..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Karuizawa Noh 15 Years Old (Cask No. 2326)

[62.2%・15 Years Old・Distilled in 2000・Bottled in 2015・The Number One Drinks Company Bottling・Cask No. 2326・Single Cask Release of 495 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is quite pungent, heavily handed on the malt, butter and honey. The vanilla note is quite prominent with some toasted nuts and almond butter as well, gets quite bread-y, raisin bread in particular.

Palate & Finish:

As the nose would indicate this is quite a dense and relentless dram, prunes, leather and oak all getting dialled right up, sticky syrup and buttery honey as the somewhat youthful malty spirit shines through, leading to a brutal dose of minerals, wood and hot spices.

Medium finish on the malty side.

Thoughts:

Would this work better in a small batch?  Probably, this is arguably weighted down by the heaviness of the spirit and the wood, in saying that though I do recognise that people can still take enjoyment from an unbalanced act..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ocean Whisky Karuizawa Aged 21 Years

[43.0%・21 Years Old・Distilled in 1967・Ocean Whisky Bottling・Limited Release of 498 Bottles]

Nose:

Subtle and elegant.  Beeswax, red cherries, soft fruits and fine raisins carried through a mellow oak influence.  Some red apples in time as well as the comforting barley sweetness gradually comes on.

Palate & Finish:

Certainly more lively on the palate, bright oranges with the peels slightly torched, ripe mangos with a light wood influence.  Soft tannins tenderly grip on with the malt blending in well with the fragrance.  A perfectly soft delivery.

Clean finish, crisp fruits with a wee bitterness, the fragrance is rounded and lasting.

Thoughts:

Sometimes, how the flavours are conveyed is what makes the dram special.

Thomas said that this is not the usual Karuizawa and I agree.  Nevertheless, this dram here is executed sublimely.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

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Whisky Review: SMWS 132.3 Karuizawa “Dark, mysterious and Seductive”

Style: Complex Sherry and Spicy

Nose:
Vanilla stick coated with a the layer of Demerara sugar, joined by fresh honey comb notes. A hint of capsicum and spice undertone. Light, melted caramel rounding off the aroma nicely.

Palate:
Even more vibrant and sharper first touch on the palate. A burst of red liquorice and hot chili shattered and dispersed across. Sherry notes on the drier side. Sleepy grapes transcending to fresher zesty flavours. The intensity retreats and we found some unsung caramel, coffee beans and oak shelved at the back.

Finish:
Remaining some zingy fresh lemon zest, a bit of honey with heavier oak. The bitter side holds on for a short while.

Thoughts:
Nice twist in the palate, there is a nice amalgamation going on with red fruits sherry and tropical fruits notes. Energetic on one hand, bright flavours and aggressive spices. While the polished wood, oaky finish demonstrates some satisfying maturation. Delightful complexity with a wide spectrum ladder of Sherry notes. Yum.

[61.6%・2013 Bottled・Independent Bottling・Single Cask・Cask Strength・Non Chill Filtered・Non Coloured・344 Bottles・Ex-Sherry Cask Matured・Aged 20 Years • *]

☆ [Recommended]

Tasted at Park Hotel Tokyo

-Esmond

Dram Review: Karuizawa Aged 10 Years

[43.0%・10 Years Old・Ocean Whisky Bottling]

Nose:

A whiff of packed raisin fructose arrives initially on the nose, surrounded with nips of pears, figs and wood chips. There is an understated layer of malt and vanilla cream, just enough in dosage that it adds to the depth but not so much that the tone gets weighted down. It’s rather dreamy really, a free spirited thing making men’s knees weak.

Palate & Finish:

On the palate, the malty nature speaks first, accompanied by the wee acidic nature of raisins as well as the fragrant sweetness. A touch of earthiness to go with the gentle drop. The saucy chocolate note then sips out in the mid-palate, gliding through the sherry creaminess seasoned with coconut sugar.

There is just enough of an earthy element coming through in the finish for the vivid dream to be grounded after all. A touch of peat toasted oak with a drying brush of raisins.

Thoughts:

This may be a Karuizawa, but it was not produced with the intention of being yet another famed unicorn from the distillery. It’s something that’s meant to be casually enjoyed, and boy oh boy, isn’t this excellent for what it really is…

It’s a teenage dream.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas