Karuizawa 1995, Bot. 2009, Cask No. 5024
Bottled for for Johan Hofvander & Tapani Kuusela
From Sweden and Finland these guys got lucky enough to buy a Japanese Wine Cask from Karuzawa. A killing Strength at 66%, better watch out!
I tasted it a few weeks ago and then tried it again in my footy-viewing-cum-Chichibu newborn-tasting session. The nose was much less active than the newborn's: very controlled and not at all outgoing. A bit of snuffling around and slight cereal and butter smells began emerging. Despite Tapani's guidance, I sipped without water at first. It was very overpowering but I just about caught the sweet, slightly winey, piney tastes. I added a number of drops of water, which it definitely needed, and found a pleasant, warming drink. A really dry character emerged. My notes read like this: "Dry. Wood, tobacco on my tongue like when smoking a badly made rollie. Finish: long brewed tea (no milk)." I liked it. Right at the end of the session, I added another drop or two of water and the taste seemed to take another sharp turn: the sweetness was back, with a really satisfying butterscotch taste in my last sip. But, sadly, the sample bottle was empty, so I could do no more exploring. I suppose it is experiences like this that make me skeptical about my (not other people's) ability to categorise whiskies with a wham-bam-thankyou-mam "Nose, mouth, finish" sort of classification. They move too much for me. Overall, I enjoyed this experience and feel a little envious of of Tapani and Johan's enterprise in arranging this unique indy bottling. The dryness will stay in my memory. I wavered between a three star and a four star for this one but thoughts of Hakushu 25 and other classics reined me in. 3/5 "Pour another one, would you?"
Tasting note by Chris Bunting