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Karuizawa Spirit of Asama

Average score from 2 reviews and 2 ratings 86

Karuizawa Spirit of Asama

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Karuizawa Spirit of Asama

Well, my first set of notes in a long time. I'd sipped this before I went on hiatus, and have had it a few times since I resumed sipping. Here's hoping that I haven't lost my sense of smell or taste!

Nose: Rich and fudgy malt, obviously sherried, chocolate, and then dashes of sweet red fruit behind it. Kirsch at first with damp forest floor. Fairly typical baseline Karuizawa. Faint notes of rubber/sulphur, but hardly 'off' or wrong. Strawberry eau-de-vie (and sweet) emerges as the main fruit, and some touches of polished leather. Really delicious and engaging.

Palate: Malty and oaked. Bitter oak. It's almost on cedar, though also out of balance and without direction. As the bitterness subsides, it regains its form, but it was just a bit of a mash-up on initial tasting. Verdant forest floor, red fruit in the depths. More coffee than chocolate, probably from the wood. Ginger, too, with some chili. Almost some rancio from an old cognac. Almost.

Finish: Slightly mentholated, still on most all the same notes. Generally very good territory. The sulphur is slightly more distinct here, but it provides echoes of ham and soy sauce. Delicious. I really enjoyed the Asama 46%, and we're in the same ballpark. This has a more powerful nose, but the palate is less elegant and more obviously sulphured.


Karuizawa has been on my must-try radar for a while since expressions from this distillery are extremely rare or super expensive or both. Which is why it was nice to be able to get my hands on this not so expensive offering.

The Spanish sherry is clearly evident in the first nose though it's not as punchy as I would have liked it to be. There are mushrooms and milk balls floating in a mix of woody fortified wine and maple syrup seasoned with clove. This one is much closer to it's Scottish cousins than it's Japanese brothers that's for sure.

The palate is definitely stronger and approaches with confidence. There are dates and fudge with a smoky cinnamon dry rub.

The finish is nice and long with a chocolate-y dryness. There is, however, a mild bitter after taste that I catch which lets me down a touch.

Overall I think the malt is nice. But I'm still after the 30+ Karuizawas that are making waves around the world.

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