Neat- Nose: The extreme sherry fruit bomb (still noble) from the bottle being opened subsided and turned to a more refined concoction in the glass. The fruit's all there, and possibly some cherry and orange liqueur, of all things. Brown sugar. A hint of saltiness, not brine, though maybe somewhere between ham and soy sauce. Strongly reminds me of the fruity/syrupy mass from my very favorite Armagnacs. You see where this is going. Figs and maybe week old ginger root. It smells thick.
Palate: I begin to doubt that this is 63% ABV because it's warm, but so very approachable and drinkable without water. Smooth and rich, not chewy. The soy and ham are a little more forward, and there's very light (clean) smoke. Some sweetness and a very classic sherry profile without being a bomb (though it will still appeal to those who love sherry bombs). Some of the wood comes out in the mid-palate. Honey and a little pepper. Some more of the liqueur.
Finish: Very satisfying. It has tremendous staying power. The chocolate malt appears, after a farewell from the game meats followed by some of the fruit. The smoke remains and rather captures a bit of the salt, sweet, and fruit. I didn't get to try this with water because, frankly, I went through it all before adding any. I daresay that I'll have to try it again with water another time. All the same, this baby is special. Now, all I need is a spare! A+ish.
Great review, sounds like an amazing whisky. I love Japanese whisky's but man can they be expensive. What was the price of this one?
@Jason0142 This one was no different, and probably a bit more so because I got it on the secondary market for around $450. It definitely fits well in that ne plus ultra range (though still well short, price-wise, of the monsters like Springbank local barley). I'm pleased to have gotten it, and it's a shame that Karuizawa is silent. I just wish that there were more options for good Japanese whisky in the US. Yamazaki is great, but it's sad not to get many other options.