Karuizawa has been closed since some years ago. That’s a real sorrow for all its lovers, since its stills used to give life to a high quality spirit that in the recent past found the deserved glory in Europe, too. The barley used by Karuizawa was the “Golden promise”, very popular in Scotland during the roaring ‘70s (now, if we’re not mistaken, is used only by Glengoyne and Benromac… but if you have any other information about it, please call us!). Anyway, this barley has been replaced by more performing varieties, not necessarily better. The point is, we’ve always been reading these constant praises for Karuizawa, but since last Saturday we haven’t been lucky enought to taste it. So it’s with a bit of emotion that we approach this single cask (#7975) matured in a sherry cask and bottled in 1984: an amazing bottling by La Maison du Whisky for the “Cocktail serie”.
N: it’s alcoholic but very opened and so pleasant to nose. Despite the age, it smells relatively fresh, although certainly not happy-go-lucky… We mean that the cask influence is significant and it reveals distinct notes: fresh red apples, apricot and red berries jam, a lot of dry wood and spices (cinnamon, cloves). Hints of balsamic vinegar. Quite unique this sense of dryness and creaminess… Impressive nuttiness (hazelnut); dried figues. It’s complex, but above all it’s very intense. A beautiful maltiness is revealed, with some floral notes (are we dreaming?). Slowly, with some drops of water, a certain smokiness emerges and the creamy side grows.
P: the taste is strong, an exuberant attack shows a great personality. Oak and spices rule (plenty of cinnamon!); dried figues and plums. It confirms the nose’s complexity: jam again (apricots), Moroccan pastries without being annoying at all for its sweetness; a bitter note acts as counterbalance: chinotto, rhubarb and oak. Just before the finish, here we find a discrete smokiness (burnt gunpowder?). Gorgeous, peculiar and challenging. With water, orange marmalade emerges.
F: very long and pleasantly fruity; the apricot is the main character again, with a growing – but still delicate – smokiness.
Its fame is really well deserved. The complexity and the intensity are remarkable. We need just two words: extremely good. We highly recommend it, but be careful: it’s a very expensive pleasure: 90/100.
Recommended soundtrack: Francoise Hardy – La maison ou j’ai grandi (c’est La Maison du Whisky…)