Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo
Last month, a very interesting new Karuizawa was launched at department store Isetan in Shinjuku. It’s a vatting of malt spanning almost the entire history of production at Karuizawa distillery (disregarding a few years at the end of the 50s, a period of trial-and-error anyway) that was married in an ex-Karuizawa cask for a few years and bottled at the end of 2015 in a beautifully engraved decanter. A few cases were made available to customers of Isetan; the remainder will be on the shelves of duty free stores in Japan soon… It’s not cheap, of course, but moaning about Karuizawa prices is becoming a bit old hat, so we’re not going to go there. Let’s focus on the liquid instead!
Karuizawa “Five Decades 1960-2000” (61.4%)
Nose: dried fruits, pecan pie and, initially, hints of wood smoke, vintage leather and prosciutto; after a while, raspberry coulis, sour plums, kumquats and lemon-drizzled baked apples;
Palate: a powerful attack with fresh citrus and spice (shichimi, cloves), then gooseberries, candied ginger, mince pies, chutney and a hint of umeboshi;
Finish: long and intense on candied grapefruit peel, fresh lime, macadamia nut butter and, towards the end, ripe prunes and soba yu.
Fresh, but with incredible depth and complexity, this marks the end of an era: the legendary Karuizawa distillery’s swan song – everything it was condensed into an emotional liquid adieu.