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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

September 23, 2013


Tasting two very fine
middle-aged Karuizawa

There's a new Karuizawa/Asama, let's try it. As for the sparring partner, we'll select another Karuizawa - of course - of similar age - of course - that was bottled a few years ago.

Karuizawa 1999-2000/2013 'Asama' (50.5%, OB, batch #2)

Karuizawa 1999-2000/2013 'Asama' (50.5%, OB, batch #2) Four stars and a half The robe is much less red than the picture would suggest ;-). It's the same whisky as in the earlier bottlings of Asama except that this one spent 12 more months of marrying. Aren't longer marriages more fulfilling? Colour: amber with bronze hues. Nose: vigorous and slightly eau-de-vie-ish (zwetschke) at first nosing, but touches of espresso, chocolate and various sweet spices are soon to come to the rescue with a perfect roundness. An artisan chocolate bar? After a few minutes, more liquorice, Habanos-loaded humidor and maybe a little dried porcinis. I like this even better than earlier batches, it's rather more complex. With water: goes more toward walnuts, flor, vin jaune, with also a little curry, but it never loses the sweetness. Sultanas. Gets slightly flinty as well. Mouth (neat): no less vigorous than on the nose but this time it's more Seville oranges and marmalade... Then some Demerara sugar, liquorice again, quite some bitter herbs (and artichokes or rather artichoke liqueur?), cardamom... It's big, pleasantly pungent whisky when neat. With water: same combo, only easier and smoother. Very nice herbal tea mix with some aniseed involved, maybe thyme, as well as strong honey (chestnut). Finish: long, kind of sweet and spicy. Speculoos and gingerbread. A rather nutty aftertaste. Comments: I think the longer marriage really made it more complex. SGP:662 - 88 points.

Karuizawa 14 yo 1995/2009 (59.4%, OB for Dr. Jekyll's pub, Norway, Noh series, wine cask, cask #5039, 222 bottles)

Karuizawa 14 yo 1995/2009 (59.4%, OB for Dr. Jekyll's pub, Norway, Noh series, wine cask, cask #5039, 222 bottles) Three stars and a half A wine cask? What's that? How do you define 'a wine cask'? I think I've read it's ex-Japanese red wine but not too sure. Colour: deep orangey amber. Nose: big, different and a little unlikely, in the sense that it's clearly winey. That means that contrarily to most other whiskies including ex-sherry, the red fruits (raw or as jams) are much more at the front. Raspberries first, as often, then rather blackberries and even strawberries. After that, more stems and leaves, herbal teas (hawthorn) and some kind of very fruity pipe tobacco. I remember a friend was smoking cherry-flavoured tobacco a long time ago, that used to smell like this. With water: more of all that. The tobacco got louder and then hints of roses and litchis appeared. Mouth (neat): thick, huge, with this feeling of kriek beer, heavy liquorice, blood oranges and then many spices, cloves, star anise, cardamom... I believe it's the heaviest mulled wine I've ever tasted. With water: doesn't swim too well on the palate, something slightly rubbery and too flinty came out. Finish: long, with raspberry afterglows. Comments: some parts are great, some are a little less great in my opinion. Wine casks are always challenging their whiskies. SGP:661 - 84 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Japanese I've tasted so far







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