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Number One Drinks Company 1984 Karuizawa Cask Strength Single Cask Single Malt Japanese Whisky (700ml)
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- ABV 57.7%
Karuizawa is held in quite different esteem to the Nikka and Suntory giants. Despite being the country's smallest whisky producer, they had ambitions to be one of Japan's best, taking an approach reminscent of Macallan when they were setting the bar for Scotch malt excellence in the 1980s.Fifty years ago the site of Karuizawa was actually a vineyard before its owner Daikoku-budoshu converted it into a whisky distillery in 1962. At 850 metres above sea level it is the most elevated in Japan. It stands in the countryside, in the shadow of a dormant volcano named Mt. Asama, to the north west of Tokyo. Karuizawa's preference for only using sherry casks (though not exclusively) helped build its reputation, and there have been a number of single cask bottlings in this sherry-led style. This matches their flavoursome spirit, made using only Golden Promise barley (as Macallan once did), all shipped from Simpson’s of Berwick. Since the mid-nineties Karuizawa was unpeated. It's ironic that the vision and persistence of its proprietors was commercially unsustainable during its operation. The distillery ceased production in 2000 and completely closed in 2011. Enter the ''Number One Drinks Company'' - a kind of independent bottler founded in 2006 to import and distribute Japan's finest whiskies.They have secured the last casks of Karuizawa and are slowly drawing them off. How much Karuizawa is left? Number One have kept the exact number of casks a closely guarded secret. It could be anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand. What is known is that of the casks they own, only a relatively small number were distilled before 1980. The rest are from the 1980s and 1990s. This very rare release is from Sherry butt 2961, distilled in 1984 and bottled in May 2012. It will be a no brainer for collectors. Get in early while the opening price is still reasonable. David Broom of maltadvocate.com adds the following footnote to this distillery style:
"...The (sadly mothballed) Karuizawa distillery is at the opposite extreme to Eigashima. Peated malt, small stills, and sherry casks give a single malt of uncompromising weight and solidity. Those of you who thought Japan was all about the ethereal and limpid, think again. In musical terms, if Eigashima is the Modern Jazz Quarter, then Karuizawa is late period Coltrane, or if you prefer, it’s Black Flag to Eigashima’s Carole King.