Friday, July 26, 2013

Karuizawa 1979 for Japan

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo
Half a year ago, I had the tremendous pleasure of spending a couple of hours with several dozen Karuizawa cask samples. I was working my way back from the last vintage (2000), through the 90s, then the 80s and the last sample on the table was one drawn from a 1979 cask. The moment I nosed it, I knew this was something special. The Number One Drinks people felt the same way and decided there and then that – seeing as loads of casks from older vintages had already been selected by retailers and distributors abroad – this would be a cask for the Japanese market. And here it is. As of today, it’s available to Bond #1 members and soon, it will make its way to specialist liquor shops nationwide.

I normally don’t attempt tasting notes in the excruciating heat and humidity of the Japanese summer, but for this 33yo Karuizawa (sherry butt #7752) I was glad to make an exception. On the nose, the initial impressions are furniture polish, old chapels and antique shops. Then, there’s dried figs, prune jam, sour plums and a whole variety of nuts: macadamias, pecan pie, cashews, hazelnuts, … you name it. That’s not all, though. In the background, you’ll find some really intriguing secondary notes: freshly made rhubarb jam, griottines, porcini, a hint of beef jerky and some lime peel. On the palate, it throws a whole patisserie at you: Christmas cake, pound cake with dried fruit and port sauce, marrons glacés, mincemeat, chocolate-coated blueberries, tiramisu, tarte tatin, Pierre Hermé’s plaisirs sucrés and Irish coffee. If you’re not into sweets – really good sweets – you’re in trouble with this Karuizawa. The finish is long and mouth-coating on chocolate orange peel and caramel popcorn but with a lovely bitter-sweet edge. It’s classic old Karuizawa but with little surprises left and right, as always. If you don’t get this, you’ll end up regretting it. Trust me.

Part of this cask was bottled in 2006 for sale at the distillery shop so you may come across a 200ml bottle with the same cask number on it. The present bottling – everything that was left in the cask – is limited to 348 bottles. That’s not much but, even though this is a special release for the Japanese market, a few cases have been set aside for Karuizawa fans abroad who are members of Bond #1. Couriers in Japan will not ship alcohol abroad if the abv is over 60%. As if to accommodate fans abroad, the whisky in cask #7752 dropped just below that limit: 59.9%. Coincidence? I don’t know, but where I come from, you don’t question good fortune … Your move.

Read more about Karuizawa Distillery here.


Lukasz Kreft said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! I did it. I have just managed to buy this beauty. Probably in the very last moment as now it is already sold out! I am very grateful for the notification. Thank you.

Stefan Van Eycken said...

Thanks for your comment Lukasz. We're happy for you! Consider yourself lucky, because that bottle is already commanding astronomically high prices on the auction circuit here in Japan. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did...

andyhohoho said...

I read this post a while ago, and talking about good fortune, I was just passing by the bic camera near ginza. And this bottle caught my eye - and looking at the alc %, I immediately knew what it was. And there went the last bottle off the shelf.