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

October 30, 2018


Japan’s most extreme

Good, Elixir Distillers are having what’s most certainly the rarest Karuizawa ever, a 50 yo of which only two bottles have been made. And it’s probably one of the maddest whiskies ever bottled by Man (Macallan Adami? Pff…) We’ll try that Karuizawa today, but we first need some interesting sparring partners. Like, some new Chichibus…

Chichibu ‘Paris Edition’ (57.3%, OB, Japan, 1357 bottles, 2018)

Chichibu ‘Paris Edition’ (57.3%, OB, Japan, 1357 bottles, 2018) Four stars and a half
This is a little complicated I have to say. Five casks altogether, including three barriques (could be Bordeaux, but they also use barriques elsewhere) of which they changed the heads for some mizunara oak, plus two new French oak casks. In short, this is marquetry… Colour: gold. Nose: porridge, mashed potatoes (Robuchon style, 50% potatoes, 50% butter – und Muskat Nuss, Herr Müller!) then spicy oranges and spicy hard bread, Sweden-style. In short, this is very bready, which we like a lot, naturally. We’ll do some ‘no wine in my whisky’ T-shirts one day. With water: oh well done! These oaks and this distillate are rather doing it in a Travolta/Newton-John way. As I sometimes say, I hate it that I’m loving this. Mouth (neat): makes you laugh, for the better. Caraway, ginger cake, yuzu and kumquat, corn bread, a touch of apricot jam, a hint of soft sweet curry. Were these barriques ex-Sauternes? With water: no, careful, do not add too much H2O or it’ll get too spicy. Finish: long, spicy and yet quite round and mellow, bizarrely. Comments: they’ve done it again. Wonderful young peatless yet spicy Chichibu.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Chichibu ‘The Peated’ (55.5%, OB, Japan, 10th Anniversary, 2018)

Chichibu ‘The Peated’ (55.5%, OB, Japan, 10th Anniversary, 2018) Four stars and a half
Looks like this is the brand new batch of the peated and I have to say I haven’t got many more details yet. The bottle’s a mock-up. And Chichibu seem to be firing in all directions these days anyway, I’m sure they already have a bottling for Whisky Live Planet Mars in the pipes – not that there’s anything wrong with that! Colour: white wine. Nose: raw smoked wood and then sour mash, brine, cow stable, kelp, and a shovelful of damp earth – or autumn leaves. Some fresh almonds too. With water: drier, earthier, with some damp beach sand and simply seawater. Mouth (neat): very good, vertical, and quite Ardbeggian. Lemon and smoke, a touch of vanilla, a little brine (gherkin brine), and touches of rooty earth. I’d have said Ardbeg Ten at high strength. With water: even better. I remember an excellent official Ardbeg 1990 C/S that was like this. Finish: very long, very clean and well-chiselled, on peat and lemon. Comments: absolutely excellent. Hope it won’t be too expensive!
SGP:357 - 89 points.

And so the new Karuizawa…

Karuizawa 50 yo (65.2%, Elixir Distillers for Plastic Oceans Charity, 2 bottles, 2018)

Karuizawa 50 yo (65.2%, Elixir Distillers for Plastic Oceans Charity Auction, 2 bottles, 2018) Five stars
It seems that there are funny things done with the last casks of Karuizawa, which reminds me a bit of the end of a tube of toothpaste, you know, when we try to make the most of what’s left by squeezing it to death. But in this very case it’s all for the best, as one of these two bottles will be auctioned in London in November, with the monies going to Plastic Oceans, ‘a charity dedicated to raising awareness of the impact that single-use plastic waste is having on our world’s oceans’. All great, all clear, and brilliant idea – while I think it’s to be noted that Karuizawa’s former owners were named ‘Ocean’. How smart and coherent is all this? It’s also superb that we could try this wonder, great move Elixir/TWE, much appreciated! Now, 65.2% vol. at 50 years of age, that’s purely amazing, the warehouse must have been very hot and dry!

Colour: amber. Nose: I was afraid this baby would have gotten too dry, too oaky, too bitter. Not at all! We’re rather all on dried mangos and papayas, with some sandal and cedar woods, some mint tea (Tea in The Sahara, remember?), touches of teak oil, mocha, and some milder tobacco. Virginia. I’m also finding whiffs of stewed artichoke and some remote balsamic smells, as well as ideas of dried porcinis and even dried Caesar’s mushrooms. With water: swims to perfection, this was not the obvious outcome. Old Russian leather, more dried mushrooms, camphory essences, black earth, cigars, humidors, pu-her tea, Dutch liquorice, balsam… It’s all amazing and incredibly complex, which is typically Karuizawa (we’re talking about the upper half). Mouth (neat): the power is incredible, but I seem to manage to detect Smyrna raisins and perhaps notes of very old Agricole rum (those old Saint James), as well as touches of kumquats. But it burns at 50 yo, really. With water: I shan’t mention that famous distillery in Craigellachie, but really, this reminds me of some 1950s distillates from that distillery. Amazing dried fruits from figs to olives (really) and the subtlest old mint essence ever.

Finish: very long, liquoricy and mentholy, with all fruits that God ever made (oh no, not you!) All dried, having said that, especially longans and arbutus berries. Hints of very old Madeira and Port in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s likely that the bottle that’ll be auctioned later in November will never, ever get opened, but I suppose the buyer will also receive a wee sample. Dear Mr or Mrs buyer, please open that sample and enjoy it to the max, because this is one utterly brilliant whisky! Oh and let me state loud and clear that I did not ‘tweak’ my opinions and score just because this bottling is done for a very worthy cause, cross my heart!
SGP:651 - 94 points.

Plastic Ocean

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Japanese whiskies we've tasted so far


Whiskyfun fav of the month

September 2018

Favourite recent bottling:
Glenturret 18 yo 1999/2018 (51.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice cask strength, First fill Sherry hogshead, cask #690, 265 bottles)
WF 91

Favourite older bottling:
None this month

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Ben Nevis 7 yo 2010/2018 (48%, LMDW, Artist Collective #2.5)  - WF 88

Favourite malternative:
Bellevue 19 yo 1998/2018 (59.7%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Guadeloupe, 254 bottles) - WF 93






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