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Nose: Syrupy and tightly wound cherries latrices. Brown sugar soup. Soy sauce, smoked Chinese pork ribs (light sulfur?) Moss, earthy mushrooms and old, nourished forest. A little closed, too. With time, oaky rancio, smoke, inscrutable wall of dark fruit, lots of chocolate. Nuts, marzipan, almond extract. Spun sugar and sugar cane almost fermenting. Menthol, too. A bit lighter as it goes on. (with water) Cinnamon, ginger, and soft malty sherry. Honeyed spun sugar comes out. Brown sugar, salty/savory elements become more diffuse. Dry oak with some tannic orange note.
Palate: Warm, but really rich and chewy. Ham, soy sauce, cherries, soft strawberries and sherry notes, hoisin sauce. Oranges, leather, brown sugar, armagnacy wood. Heavy coffee, ginger. Dry, for one. (with water) Water calms it down, yet it's still thick and very oily. Loses some fruit, rather more on richly sweet maltiness, and more of that saucy Chinese/Japanese salt and deluxe soy and oyster sauce.
Finish: A graceful finish of the slightly sweet savory. And maybe just a hint of weak coffee. Palate feels almost clean after a while. This is a very elegant dram, though the finish is short and the fruit is on the edge. More robust with air in the bottle, and really shows off the kind of awesome luxury ham and soy that Karuizawa sometimes does. This is one that must not be rushed, and get better with time and age. I go back and forth on this, it left me wanting and hoping for more, but there's no denying its excellence. Let's call it at A-