Show rating data charts
Distribution of ratings for this:
This is my 200th review on connosr, and I believe I have a single malt whisky to introduce that is worthy of the occasion. Given my infatuation with Japanese whisky I decided to spend some time with a large sample of a 1969 Karuizawa that was given to me by a rather generous friend. I had tasted this before, during a master class with Dave Broom and Marcin Miller at Whisky Live Paris 2012, so I knew what to expect and I knew that the stuff was fairly good. Why don’t we just skip the introductory information on the distillery that I usually love to put up and dive right into the whisky. Suffice it to be said that this Karuizawa was matured in a 400 litre ex-bourbon cask, which is unusual given that most Karuizawa enjoyed some maturation in ex-sherry casks.
The nose is quite woody and spicy. There are plenty of vanilla flavours, together with leather, tobacco and a touch of furniture polish. Not a bad start but from my perspective this baby clearly needs water! With water the vanilla flavours become more pronounced and are almost creamy now, together with green apples and some cinnamon, now all beautifully interwoven. Great!
The palate is medium-bodied and spicy. Wood spice is still very prominent, together with flavours of tobacco, honey, orange peel and pineapple. With water the palate turns slightly bitter, although the green apple and vanilla flavours are back and manage to keep the show going.
The finish is of medium length, spicy and dry. I got, again, a lot of vanilla and some pineapple, followed by a touch of mint. The wood spice is still quite dominant though.
This Karuizawa was different from any I had tasted before, and of course the maturation in an ex-bourbon cask explains that. I adored the nose, so different from all the Karuizawas I had tasted before, but I have to say that the wood influence was rather dominant and a lot of water was needed to deconstruct this and to get at the flavours hiding behind the alcohol and the wood spice. Even with adding water the spiciness on the palate was only marginally reduced. Therefore, this was not quite a 90-point whisky in my book but getting very close to it. Still a single malt worthy of a 200th review. Slainte!