Tag Archives: karuizawa

Exclusive US Market Karuizawas

As initially reported at Nonjatta earlier and later here on WhiskyWall, a retailer here in the US is releasing two single cask expressions of the much coveted Karuizawa. The retailer turns out to be K&L Wine Merchants here in California. This is very surprising on a couple of levels. First, as we all know the stocks of Karuizawa are rapidly dwindling and there just isn’t much left. Second, the amount of Japanese whisky available in the US is extremely limited – Nikka has only been available here since the beginning of 2013 and even then it is only two expressions.

The procurement of these two casks has been a long time coming. The spirits buyers at K&L, David Driscoll and David Othenin-Girard, had the foresight to start trying to track down some Karuizawa to bring to the US back in 2011. Coming to terms with the Number One Drinks Company to procure these two casks was only the beginning though. The much maligned booze laws and bureaucracy made importing the whisky to the US a challenging process. But finally after two years of work these bottles are on their way and now available for pre-arrival ordering. I had the opportunity to try a small sample of each but didn’t have a lot of time to really break each of them down. So my impressions will have to be supplemented after I get the chance to spend some more time with each of them.

Noh, Karuizawa, Japanese Whisky

The first cask is 12 years old and was distilled in 1999. It is a first fill sherry butt (cask #869) and comes in at 58.9% ABV. This feisty 12 year old is actually a very balanced easy sipper that hides the high ABV well. Do not confuse this with being a boring or one dimensional dram at all. There is a depth of overripe red fruits, fragrant wood, incense and orange. I am particularly sensitive to sulpher with sherry casks and I am happy to report that I didn’t detect any with this one. I am hesitant to say that this one can be a session whisky, albeit a very high end one.

Noh, Karuizawa, Japanese Whisky

The second elder brother cask is 30 years old and was distilled in 1981. This is also a sherry butt (cask #8775) and was bottled at 64.4% ABV. This is a true whisky geek whisky in my opinion. The layers of flavor seem to go on forever. The first thing that hit me was how rutty it was – I was not expecting that at all. I picked up a hint of flint smoke along with the dense sherry signature, variety of baking spices and fragrant wood (like the 12 y/o). This is one that you really have to sit with for awhile to get through and find all of the flavors that are hiding in it.

Both bottles are available to be pre-ordered now here and here.  K&L is estimating that they will arrive and be available for pick up sometime in late summer/early fall. These bottles will not last long and I don’t foresee another release of Karuizawa for the US market ever again.


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A Special Nonjatta Bottling of Karuizawa

In a huge surprise our favorite Japanese Whisky blog Nonjatta announced that it is releasing its own bottling of the much famed Karuizawa. Read the details here and get it while you can!

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The US Market to Get Some Karuizawa


Sticking with the same theme as our last post about more Japanese whisky entering the US market – it looks like we are getting even more.  I was truly surprised to find out that there will be two single cask bottlings of Karuizawa available here this year through K&L Wines based in California.  The now silent Karuizawa has become the Port Ellen of Japanese whiskies when it comes to the fervent demand for the precious few bottles that are released.  The two spirits buyers at K&L, David Driscoll and David Othinen-Girard, worked hard and managed to secure a cask from 1981 bottled at 62.9% ABV and another from 1999 bottled at 58.3% ABV.  As expected for Karuizawa both casks are Sherry Butts.  It is also anticipated that these bottles will come wrapped in the ever-popular Noh series labels.  Given that bottles of Karuizawa are selling out in literally seconds in Japan, I am thankful that these bottles will be available here in the US – maybe I’ll have a better chance at being able to buy a bottle.


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Shinanoya Does It Again…

*Image taken from Shinanoya’s Facebook Page*

Well at least they are going to on July 26.  As we all know Karuizawa bottels are getting harder and harder to find these days.  And surprisingly even more so in Japan.  Shinanoya who’s The Game Hanyu bottling I loved is releasing their private cask bottling of Karuizawa on July 26.  You can get a preview taste of it at the Osaka Whisky Festival on July 15.

1995 Karuizawa 16 y/o 12,900 Yen
Shinanoya Private Cask 5th Anniversary
Japanese Wine Cask 69.3% ABV

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2012 Tokyo Bar Show

This past weekend was the Tokyo Bar Show held at Roppongi Midtown. Although I initially thought it was purely a bartender/cocktail event there was a very heavy whisky presence at the event. In fact the special bottlings for this event were all whisky – specifically Japanese Whisky. Five expressions were bottled to commemorate the event:

Karuizawa – a vatting of 1999 and 2000 casks. Aged in sherry butts and bottled at 61.6%ABv

Chichibu – cask #287. Distilled in 2009 (3 y/o) aged in Chibidaru barrel (Chichibu’s original quarter cask. Bottled at 61.8%ABV

Yamazaki – Single cask, Distilled 1999 (12 y/o), aged in a puncheon. I couldn’t find it’s bottling strength unfortunately.

Hanyu – single cask # 349, Distilled in 2000 (12 y/o), aged in Chibidaru quarter cask, bottled at 58.4%ABV

Karuizawa – another vatting of sherry butts Distilled in 1999 and 2000. Bottled at 61.7%ABV

These are some interesting and rare bottlings that you won’t want to think about for too long if you are even remotely interested in liking them up. You can purchase them online here

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