Karuizawa 1991-2007 Sherry Cask 3318 62.5%abv

Karuizawa 1991 3318Nose: Notes of toasted oak, toffee, dry earth, steel, mild wood stain, cloves and dried papaya. Can’t say it’s particularly bold or expressive and the sherry influence is non existent to my nose. Color is orange rather than the dark cherry you will see in many sherry cask matured whiskies. Very mild at 62.5%abv.
Palate: 62.5% certainly reveals itself on the palate. For a moment there’s quite some juicy fruit flavors though more like you would get in fruit candies/lollies. After that hotter elements like chili take over though they also fade fast followed by the earthy flavor, also dried pears and papaya, nutmeg, roasted chestnut and Manuka honey. Adding water actually brings the hotter elements forward in the mix and they also hang on longer so not recommended for my palate.
Finish: Metallic minerals, peanut butter and a charred element. Fades quickly.
Last Word: It’s Ok but certainly would not buy it at current prices. Also, where’s the sherry influence!? Would take a bottle of Nikka WFTB over this any day.

Rating: 81/100

Karuizawa 1979-2013 33YO Sherry Butt #7752 59.9%

Karuizawa 1979 33YO Sherry Cask #7712 59.9%.jpgNose: Candied nuts, caramelized orange slices, mixed peel, sweet spices, cloves, cola, leather.
Palate: Mixed peel, caramelized orange slices, caramel, black cherries, wood stain, peach fuzz, cola, red grapes, Christmas cake.
Finish: Leather, mixed peel, cola, cloves and the caramelized orange slices.
Last Word: Nice complexity and I would say a well rounded and refined Karuizawa.

Rating: 90/100

Karuizawa Kohaku 1995 Vintage 10YO 59.9%

Kohaku 2Nose: Leads with a heavy acetone note, wood stain/varnish. Oranges, grapefruit, marmalade, black pepper, spearmint, Dijon mustard, cucumber, peanut shells, burnt sugar cane.
Palate: Immediately more appealing than the nose with the acetone mellowing out. Lots of red grape sweetness, ginger ale, sweetened grapefruit, peanuts, savory shapes biscuits, salt, raisins. Some hot spices rise after a few sips. Adding water brings out some oak and butter menthols.
Finish: Short-medium on red grapes, oak, butter menthols, ginger beer.
Last Word: The heavy acetone notes of the nose diminish an otherwise decent whisky.

Rating: 80/100

Karuizawa Asama 2nd Edition 1999/2000 Vintages 50.5%abv

Karuizawa Asama 2Nose: Cloves, brandy snaps, dried fruits, golden syrup, blood oranges, nail polish remover, rubber, hints of dust and fruit mold.
Palate: Dried fruits, mixed herbs, tingly spices, brandy snaps, salt, golden syrup, Arnotts savory shapes, a ginger ale/cola blend, rubber, fruit mold, spearmint, some nuttiness. Adding some water the spicy flavors are enhanced, but so to are the acetone one’s.
Finish: Arnotts savory shapes, mixed herbs, spearmint, rubber, brandy snaps, quite oily and quite long.
Last Word: The clarity of the flavors is not to bad but the balance isn’t top notch. Still, I enjoyed this more than I thought even though I wouldn’t rush out an buy a bottle.

Rating: 80/100

*Thanks to Clint at Whiskiesrus for the large sample. You can check out Clint’s review here.

Karuizawa “Balanced Sherry” For Isetan Shinjuku 2000 12YO 60.9%abv

karuizawa-2000-balanced-sherry-2Nose: Fruit jubes, vanilla, a fishy note, oak, raisins, cashews, peach skins.
Palate: Golden syrup, ginger ale, walnuts, dry sherry, pepper coated mixed peel, BBQ sauce.
Finish: Fades quickly with a little mixed peel, pepper, walnut and ginger ale.
Last Word: Solid if not remarkable, at least this is a Karuizawa sherry cask without sulphur!

Rating: 80/100

Thanks to Clint at WRU for the sample. You can check out Clint’s review here.

Karuizawa Joint Bottling of HST 1999 14YO Sherry Cask #2316 61.3%

karuizawa-1999-14yo-sherry-cask-2316-61-3Nose: Dried fruits, marmalade, overripe apricots, oak, wood stain, maple syrup, oranges, pink grapefruit, praline, drying fresh tanned leather, tree sap. No sulphury notes, whoo hoo!
Palate: Very punchy without water with a fix of fizzy fruit sherbets, dried fruits, praline, nougat and oak. With water there’s some toffee, orange jus, pepper, strawberry conserve and licorice added.
Finish: Dried fruits, oak, strawberry conserve, mild peppermint and licorice. Finally dies on hints of leather and charcoal.
Last Word: A fine Karuizawa with a lot going on. Not a sulphury note to be found which puts it in the minority of Karuizawa sherry cask matured whiskies.

Rating: 88/100
*Note: Once again another problem with the cork on a Karuizawa bottling. On the 3rd opening of this bottle, the cork snapped in two. Had to fish out half the cork with wooden skewers and a pair of tweezers. Straight into the not good enough basket.

Karuizawa The Colors of Four Seasons 2nd Release 2000-2013 12YO #5173 64.8%abv

karuizawa-colours-of-four-seasons-2000-2012-12yo-64-8-5135Nose: Eggnog, toffee, key lime pie, lemon drops, barley, overripe pineapple, wood chips, papaya. Water adds apricot jam.
Palate: Honey smacks, fruit loops, toffee, wood chips, lemon fizz, honey yoghurt. Water brings our nougat and pineapple lumps. Smooth enough even without adding H20.
Finish: Shortish on apricot jam, pineapple lumps, barley and wood chips.
Last Word: Would have cracked 90 points I reckon with a stronger finish. At any rate a lot better/more interesting than most of those simple sulphur ridden sherry Karuizawa numbers that are overhyped in certain circles. Yes I’ll tell you how I really feel ; )

Rating: 88/100
*Note – Cork warning. I keep all my bottles upright of course but the cheap cork that came with this bottle has already cracked in 2 and I may have opened this 10 times at most. Not good enough!

Karuizawa OB 12YO Hanshin Tigers Label 40%abv

karuizawa-hanshin-tigers-label-1991-2003-12yo-40-700mlNose: Fresh peaches, oak, straw, oats, dried pears, fabric softener, hint of sherry.
Palate: Cashews, dried pears, orange rind, salt, barbeque shapes, oak, a little ash, touch of mint.
Finish: Short on dried pears, barbeque shapes, honey and some drying oak.
Last Word: Easy drinker that I remember being more impressed with when I first opened the bottle.

Rating: 81/100

Karuizawa 1970 – 1979 No.1 Drinks Sherry Cask #6177 64.3%

karuizawa-1970-2012-64-3-ob-number-one-drinks-ex-sherry-cask-6177Nose: Quite earthy. Wet Autumn leaves, sweet orange, leather, pipe tobacco, dried papaya, marmalade, dried pears.
Palate: Sweet and hot spices. Tangy orange, boot leather, cigar leaf, dried fruits, chocolate, almonds, nougat. Quite a bit of drying oak but works well with the other flavors. Water heightens the nougat and adds a little marzipan.
Finish: Hot spices, salt, marmalade, leather, caramelised orange juice, nougat and then drying oak.
Last word: I’m won over by the balance between the spices, fruity notes and drying elements
Rating: 91/100
*Notes taken from a purchased sample.

Karuizawa 1981-2012 Cocktail Series by LWDW #162 55.8%

karuizawa-cocktail-series-1981-162-55-8_0Nose: Lots of oak and sawdust. Pineapple chunks, vanilla, orange, flint, charcoal, shoe polish, peanut butter.
Palate: Charred BBQ steak. Ash, mixed peel, peanuts and a little salt. Water make this tangier.
Finish: Very ashy and dry. Also some menthol and peanut sauce.
Last Word: Look it’s ok, but I’ve a number of $20-30 Japanese whiskies that are better. Nuff said!

Rating: 81/10
*Notes taken from a purchased sample

Dramtastics Japan(whisky) Road Trip April 2013 – Day 9-10 Karuizawa 1966 21YO 43%Abv


Spending a couple of days in the World Heritage town of Nikko. Mainly site seeing but thought this would also give me the opportunity to post on a rare, Karuizawa 1966-1987 21YO OB that I have been fortunate enough to secure on this trip.
So what do I know about this whisky. Mostly only the obvious. The years distilled and bottled, age, alcohol percentage and that there was 521 of these in total. That it is thought to have had only one previous owner, the person I acquired it from. That owner was in correspondence with Ocean in regards to this bottling back in the day and had lost most of the information on it, but his best recollection was that the wood shavings in the wooden box the bottle comes in is from the cask it was matured in. Myth or reality it is a romantic notion either way. So what will I be doing with bottle. As it is of far too much historic value, really a museum piece, I hope to find a suitable venue to display this bottle in as it may be the only one left in existence.




Karuizawa 1981-2011 Sherry Cask #7924 56.6%abv

p1000977Nose: Dry Sherry. Dark orange chocolate, dried leaves, kirsch, caramel, Chinese 5 spice, roasted nuts, pepper, nutmeg.
Palate: Raisins, burnt sugar, burnt orange, orange sherbet, struck match, sour candies, pepper. Water makes this tangier and adds some vanilla, bubblegum, licorice, cola, orange coffee liqueur.
Finish: Pretty much follows the palate with burnt caramel, burnt sugar and burnt orange.
Last Word: Not terrible but all the burnt flavors aren’t my cup of tea.

Rating: 81/100
*Notes taken from the purchased sample in photo.

Karuizawa Noh 27YO Multi Vintage for LMDW Sherry and Bourbon Casks 59.7%abv

karuizawa-multi-vintage-27yo-bott-2011-59-1-for-lmdw-sherry-bourbon-6405497381846437Nose: Chlorine at a public swimming pool shower block. Match heads, lavender, mixed peel, wet dog. Odd!
Palate: Sherry, sweet orange. toffee, cloves, nutmeg, salt. Adding water neither adds or subtracts.
Finish: Wet cement, toffee, pepper, salt, match heads, chlorine.
Last Word: Not a total disaster despite the odd notes.

Rating: 79/100
*Notes taken from a purchased sample.

Karuizawa Noh 1981-2012 Sherry Cask #4676 for TWE 58.6%abv

karuizawa-1981-noh-cask-4676-sherry-58-6Nose: Earthy also mint, mushrooms, raisin toast, aged demerara rum, leather, brazil nuts, prunes, charcoal.
Palate: Prunes, mint, chocolate, aged demerara rum, damp earth, brazil nuts, nutmeg. Nice balance. Added water, better without.
Finish: Not particularly long on damp earth, sherry, brazil nuts, nutmeg and wet dog.
Last Word: A fine sherry cask matured whisky only really let down by the short finish.

Rating: 90/100

Karuizawa 1996-2008 OB #7387 60.7%abv

karuizawa-1986-2008-60-7-ob-cask-7387Nose: Not a lot going on. Honey, fermenting pears, wood shaving, straw, burnt twigs, bubble bath.
Palate: Fairly simple. Toffee, rhubarb, nutmeg, burnt twigs, pepper and salt. Water makes this a little sweeter and adds a nutty element.
Finish: Honey on oats, burnt twigs and pepper.
Last Word: Fairly average stuff.

Rating: 78/100
*Notes taken from a purchased sample.

Karuizawa 1982-2012 Coy Label Bourbon Barrel #8497 46%abv

p1000863Nose: Vanilla, banana, toffee, grapefruit, apple. Some burnt rubber and floor polish.
Palate: Pretty hard to get passed the burnt rubber without adding water. Also fairly bitter. With quite a bit of water, grapefruit, a little apricot jam, toffee, banana, licorice and ash.
Finish: Burnt rubber and bitter elements dominate. Ends with some ashy dryness.
Last Word: Had this open for about 4 months now and it seems to be falling apart.

Rating: 70/100(just).

Karuizawa Noh 1982-2012 Bourbon Cask #8529 58.8%abv

p1000864Nose: Not dissimilar to cask 8497 as can be imagined. Banana, grapefruit, orange, oak, pencil shavings, wood stain, shoe polish.
Palate: Fairly brutal and one dimensional without water. Burnt rubber, burnt banana, orange, caramel. With water you get a little sweet spice, treacle and bitter nuts.
Finish: Not much to it. A little sweet, a little dry, a little bitter and burnt rubber.
Last Word: Not too flash.

Rating: 73/100

Karuizawa 1969-2012 OB No. 1 Drinks Bourbon Cask #8183 61.3%abv

karuizawa-1969-2012-61-3-ob-number-one-drinks-ex-bourbon-cask-8183Nose: Fairly subtle. Dried fruits of raisins and mango. Marmalade, vanilla, high end demerara rum, new leather and light oak. Actually more like a sherry cask matured whisky in some ways.
Palate: A lot more punch than the nose and in a good way. Mixed nuts, mixed peel, cigar leaf, toffee and surprisingly smoky. All very well integrated. Water tends to drown this a little.
Finish: Good length and nicely smoky.

Last word: Doesn’t sound spectacular but I like the style and balance of flavors in this one.

Rating: 89/100(almost 90)
*Notes taken from a purchased sample.

Memories of Karuizawa 1999 13YO Sherry Cask #879 62.9%abv

Nose: Kirsch, raisins, beef stock, damp earth, soy sauce, mint sauce, oak, licorice, chicken stock, overripe apricots. Water enhances the earthy notes.
Palate: Dry sherry, damp earth, raisins, soy sauce over spring rolls, beef stock, burnt orange, pepper, nutmeg, blackcurrant jubes. Water brings out tangy orange.
Finish: Soy sauce, chicken stock, kirsch, nutmeg, mushrooms, raisins, pepper.
Last Word: A fine young Karuizawa that is far better than  many of the overpriced, overhyped, sulphur riddled sherry numbers I’ve tasted from this distillery. Worth seeking out.

Rating: 90/100

Karuizawa Dave Broom School of Malt Sherry Butt 1991 21YO #9091 63.7%


Nose: Dried fruits but this is not complex enough to separate them. Dry Sherry, lemon, vanilla. Quite a lot of varnish and oak to compete with though.
Palate: Mixed peel and other dried fruits(see nose). Bitter nuts, varnish, a little vanilla and burnt toast. Adding water flattens what is already a pretty basic experience.
Finish: A bit hot, dried fruits, vanilla, caramel, bitter nuts and some ash.
Last Word: Simple.

Rating: 78/100