Monday, February 1, 2016

Ghost #7: Karuizawa x Kawasaki “Time Slip”

This release is now SOLD OUT. More Ghosts on the way, so watch this space.

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

Towards the end of 2014, we were contacted by a friend who had made an incredible discovery in a forgotten warehouse up in the cold north of Japan (Hokkaido, to be precise): a blend of Karuizawa malt and Kawasaki grain from the late 70s that had been slumbering in glass for over 3 decades. We tried to curb our enthusiasm until we had tasted it… When we finally got round to tasting it, we knew we had to do something with it. It wasn’t just a historic curiosity. It was a pretty fine specimen from the days when most Japanese whisky was… well, quite frankly, nothing to write home about.
During the last phase of its life, the liquid was returned to wood (an ex-Karuizawa Spanish oak cask from the 80s, to be precise), which had had a reinvigorating effect on the whisky. The revitalizing phase was limited by the danger of the abv dropping too low, which fortunately did not happen. It was bottled during the last days of 2015, by which time the whisky had acquired a depth and vitality rarely encountered in whiskies from the late 70s.

It’s a unique whisky and there were many people involved in making it happen. This makes it slightly more expensive than the previous Ghost releases, but we couldn’t have done it without the chain of people that it took to complete this project. Another reason why it’s slightly more expensive is that 10% of each bottle is donated to Spirits for Small Change (stay tuned for more on the second edition of this whisky charity event, coming in early July).

The label features the print “The Ghost of Taira no Tomomori Appears at Daimotsu Bay” from Yoshitoshi’s “New Forms of 36 Ghosts”. The historical context behind the print is so complex that we are pretty sure none of our readers would reach the end of the paragraph without clicking the shopping link. In a nutshell: clan 1 (the Minamoto) destroys clan 2 (the Taira); the latter, trapped in a small bay and vastly outnumbered, realize their position is hopeless and decide to commit suicide by jumping in the sea tied to a very heavy anchor. Months later, the Ghosts of the Taira attempt to take revenge by stirring up a gale in Daimotsu Bay where the king pin of clan 1 happened to be. The ghosts of clan 2 tried to pull their enemies into the sea, but fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on whose side you’re on), the latter had a Buddhist priest on board who was able to disperse the ghosts by holding up a rosary and reciting Buddhist prayers. Ah, those were the days…

The analogy is far from perfect, but we felt there was some resonance between the story behind the liquid and the story behind the print… Feel free to contemplate the parallels as you sip this whisky. We don’t want to spoil all the fun.

So what’s it like? Well, you tell us! There are 282 bottles so more than plenty to go around. Just approach it with an open mind. This whisky is in a category of its own. It’s a blended whisky, but you can’t really compare it with your average blended whisky now. It’s finished in a single cask, but you can’t compare it with a single cask Karuizawa (don’t expect that… if it was that easy, we could all make single cask Karuizawas). It is what it is… a “Time Slip” whisky, a flash from the Showa past in high definition.

It’s available now from our friends at Malt City, here. But just a few things before you head on over to their site:

-       it’s 1 bottle per person, folks… (we have sophisticated ways of removing people who try to play the system, so it’s best not to try);
-      it’s not possible to select a delivery date for this product;
-       there’s considerable work involved in shipping these bottles, so after you’ve placed your order, do be patient… shipping will commence mid-February in the order that orders come in, and final delivery will be completed by the end of March. It takes a bit longer than usual, because the outturn is much higher than with previous releases and the delivery capacity of Malt City is limited.
-     Malt City is not responsible for any trouble occurring because of local import/liquor rules, laws and regulations. Please confirm the rules for having liquor sent to your country before placing your order. Some countries have very restrictive laws about this. If it’s risky and you still want to proceed, please understand the risk is yours.
-     the Malt City server will be down for maintenance on 2nd February: from 5am for approximately 30 minutes (Japanese time.)
Our friends of Malt City have a ton of work with the Ghost releases and this is the most mammoth one so far, so please help them by refraining from contacting them about details of this bottling. They simply don’t have the staff to be able to cope with loads of enquiries. Everything is set out clearly in this post.

Good luck and enjoy!

Oh, and Ghost 8 is in the works and that will be ultra-limited again (in terms of outturn). Stay tuned, as always!


A said...

Fantastic news. In what kind of glass container was the blend stored?

Can I ask if the payment made via Maltcity is taken immediately from the account?
Thus the payment in YEN is done immediately, so there is no risk of impact from any currency deviations?

M. Nikolic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynne Ng said...

oh my...It's already ALL sold out!

purpleclay said...

Wow! It really sold like hot cake. I place my order at 7:08pm, immediately informed a friend who tried to log in just a few mins after me but was informed that all the bottles were sold. Congrats to Nonjatta for another successful launch!

Will McBrien said...

Wasn't even close to being timely with this one but definitely great to see the series pick back up again. Quite the backstory on this one...would love to hear some tasting notes here in the comment section from people that were able to get a bottle.

A said...

There is/was another release of a 15yo blend. Is this from a similar source?

Wolfy said...

slow on the button lol. How much did the ghost 7 go for?