Monday, November 4, 2013

Memories of Karuizawa 4 (1999/2013)

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

A couple of months ago, the fourth release in the ‘Memories of Karuizawa’ series (a series of single casks for the Japanese market) went on sale. We forgot to discuss it at the time – blame it on the excruciating Japanese summer – but finally got round to putting the spotlight on it.
Karuizawa 1999/2013, 14yo, cask #855, 57%abv

On the nose, this whisky is dominated by cereal notes (oatmeal, malted milk, pot ale). You also get a big load of vegetables (turnip, beetroot, mashed potatoes, mushroom soup) and hints of manuka honey, boiled pork and vegemite. If you’re really patient, you may find some stewed peaches. I also found that this whisky reminded me quite a bit of ‘grappa ruta’ (grappa with a large sprig of rue in the bottle). If you’re a fan of ‘grappa ruta’, I guess that’s a good thing.

The palate is rather under-defined – you get some scones, burnt toast, asparagus, quite a bit of grapefruit peel, some sour apple mash… but it doesn’t make much of an impact, to be honest. Water helps a little bit, but not as much as it should. The finish is short with a slightly bitter undertone. You may pick up a bit of caramel mousse and a hint of hazelnut paste – on a good day – but that could just be wishful thinking.

As you can read between the lines, this is definitely one of the lesser Karuizawas. It actually comes across as a Karuizawa that suffered from arrested development while it was in the cask. Then again, I’m not sure that more time in oak would have made much difference. A bit of a strange one, this 4th release. With so many absolutely stellar expressions around, we tend to forget it’s unrealistic to expect every single cask of Karuizawa to be a bright star in the whisky firmament. ‘Memories of Karuizawa 4’ is one to go to if you need reminding...

Read more about Karuizawa Distillery here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Couldn't really agree with this. On the nose I can broadly, but on the palate this is a pretty complex and balanced dram--with no excessive bitterness at the end. Remarkable for a 14 year old and pretty good value for Karuizawa if you can still get this bottle in shop.

Vince (on whiskybase)