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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Turning Japanese...I really think so!!


Another first for Caskstrength.net. The following review is the first Japanese whisky we've ever decided to stick up... not because we don't rate them- there are some amazing expressions out there, but we thought that it'd be great to round a bunch up and do a whole month of 'all things Japanese'.
Starting in the first week of December, we'll be bringing you interviews, reviews galore and exclusives on some great Japanese whiskies, and some of the people behind them...

back to the BiG awards nominees- and we're in for an absolute cracker. The Karuizawa distillery was introduced to us only recently and in a very short space of time we've tried to find as much info about the expressions currently being bottled. Our first dram was the stunning 1971 single cask (6878) which really made an impression on us, partly for its rich mahogany colour and wax sealed bottle. It is one of the oldest Japanese whiskies bottled currently, with some equally aged expressions to come. As a contender for the BiG awards this year, we felt it necessary to put it through a vigorous workout, which was clearly an excuse for a few extra lengthy drams!!

Karuizawa Vintage 1971 - single cask no. 6878 - bottled 15/1/08 - 64.1 % - 70cl

Nose: Dark, musty and earthy, like foraging around the woods for wild mushrooms in the autumn. Hints of moss, then digging deeper, florals- passion fruit, sherbet, orange zest and big dark sherry notes.

Palate: 64.1 %... just stop for a second and think how strong that is. This whisky is one of the first we have tried at that incredible strength which needs no water to be perfectly balanced in the mouth, without any numbing of the senses. Incredible stuff. Layers of beautiful fruity zing, this time passion fruit, dried figs, then fresh ground coffee, more sherry and those wild mushrooms. It is one of the most unique and well balanced flavour profiles you'll find in a whisky bottle.

Finish: Hugely rich and warm, with long lasting licorice and sherry notes, keeping your mouth tingling for ages.

Overall: What a way to start our foray into Japanese whiskies. This is a true great and we're really happy for it to be a worthy nominee in our list of 2008's stunners.