Google Karuizawa 1980 1979 1978 bourbon

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

April 21, 2015


Karuizawa 1980 1979 1978 bourbon

Today we’ll have three big Karuizawas from last year, all ex-bourbon to be as coherent as possible. And while we’re at it, we’ll do it as a short verticale.

Karuizawa 34 yo 1980/2014 (63%, OB, No.1 Drinks for LMDW, bourbon, cask #6476)

Karuizawa 34 yo 1980/2014 (63%, OB, No.1 Drinks for LMDW, bourbon, cask #6476) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: starts a wee bit solventy, which is normal at this strength. It’s even a notch acetic at first nosing, but everything starts to become smoother and rounder after a few seconds, with very lovely notes of café latte, warm sawdust, dried apricots and church incense. I also find a little botrytis, sultanas and just hints of dried roses. At some point I could not not think of some older Willetts. With water: a perfect shortbread/marmalade combination, with a great freshness and no overoakiness whatsoever. Takes water very well. Mouth (neat): hugely concentrated, to the point where it gets very mentholy and kind of lemony (bitter lemon marmalade with some ginger), but those flavours keep it rather fresh, and even approachable. Also Seville oranges, bags of cinnamon and quite some liquorice wood, with a little feeling of ‘sucking your pencil at school’. With water: some kind of cocktail made with cinnamon, various citrus liqueurs and just a touch of ginger. The freshness remains impressive. Finish: quite long, with a few more oaky spices, as almost always (teas), but the lemony signature keeps it ‘high’. A touch of maraschino in the aftertaste. Comments: I’d say these ex-bourbon versions aren’t as wham-bam as the sherried ones, but I find them lovely. Even at 63% vol.! SGP:661 - 89 points.

Karuizawa 35 yo 1979/2014 (58.8%, OB, No.1 Drinks, bourbon, cask #8187)

Karuizawa 35 yo 1979/2014 (58.8%, OB, No.1 Drinks, bourbon, cask #8187) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: same ‘family’, obviously, but this one’s rather grassier, kind of more vegetal, with peelings and roots (beetroot, celeriac). After a few seconds, it’s some brioche that comes through, together with a very superb earthiness ‘out of nowhere’. That, I like. Black tea, pipe tobacco, menthol, a drop of turpentine, a little humus… All that on the usual marmalade and butterscotch. Croissants au beurre. With water: cough syrup! Love these hints of eucalyptus. Mouth (neat): oh lovely! Creamy limoncello and mandarine impériale plus pipe tobacco and earthy spices. Citron liqueur. The citrus is impressive, and reminds me of some old ex-active oak Rosebank. With water: even more to my liking. All things citrusy plus a few things earthy, especially liquorice wood. Finish: long, with a little caraway coming through. Probably the most expensive aquavit in the whole world ;-). Comments: seriously, this one’s just great. SGP:661 - 91 points.

Karuizawa 35 yo 1978/2014 (63%, OB, No.1 Drinks, bourbon, cask #8383)

Karuizawa 35 yo 1978/2014 (63%, OB, No.1 Drinks, bourbon, cask #8383) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: even more acetic and solventy than the 1980 at first sniffs, this is almost a blend of nail polish remover and balsamic vinegar when unreduced. Let’s give it time… zzz… Well, nothing beats time with anything related to whisky, even a few minutes in the glass. Gone the solventy notes, hello fudge, marmalade, butterscotch, rancio (touches) and not-too-sweet raisins. Pretty often, these old ex-bourbon Karuizawas do display sherried notes, which is funny. With water: cough syrup, just like in the 1979, but this time the whole got even more medicinal. Some kind of secret concoction that would cure just anything! The croissants are back as well. Mouth (neat): as creamy as honey, rather spicy, marmalady and rather tannic. Ginger, cinnamon mints, cumin, strong tea…But once again, the citrusy side saves it. Even better, that comes with perfect earthy tones. With water: almost the same whisky as the 1979, with just a few more medicinal and kind of spiky touches. Peppermint? Finish: long, citrusy, earthy and spicy. Comments: I think I liked this one even better than the 1979. We’re approaching the best sherried versions! SGP:562 - 92 points.

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

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback








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