Karuizawa was a vineyard in 1955 when the owner Daikoku Budoushu decided to enter the Japanese whisky industry and base a distillery in the shadow of the volcano,
Mount Asama. In 1962, his company merged with current owners the Mercian Corporation.
The distillery is small, and aims to produce modest quantities of traditional whiskies, using 100 per cent Golden Promise barley, wooden washbacks, small stills and Sherry casks sourced from Spain. Karuizawa's whiskies are close in style to Scottish malts, but their unique character is influenced by the fact that the process water has been filtered through lava and the distillery experiences very hot summers and extremely cold winters which results in a different maturation profile.
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|Karuizawa, Single Cask 1988 Malt Whisky (Japan) |
The floral nose offers sweet Sherry, honey, ginger and raspberries, while orange marmalade notes develop with exposure to air. Full-bodied in the mouth, with Christmas cake, rich spices and Liquorice Allsorts. Much drier with the addition of water, when the Sherry becomes muted and the liquorice dominates, with a hint of pepper. The finish is medium to long, drying, and spicy to the end. This is, indeed, very close to a traditional Highland malt that has been matured in a good ex-Sherry cask. A lovely, complex, confident whisky.
59.8% ABV, 70cl, £60.00, Berry Bros & Rudd, Royal Mile Whiskies.