Over the past few years, Japanese whiskey has become more popular. From the most popular bottles to the limited edition casks, Japanese whiskey is becoming difficult to find because whiskey fans have discovered just how good it can be. But most people still don’t know much about it. We are here to help – What is Karuizawa?
Karuizawa distillery was a Japanese whisky distillery. It was located at Miyota, a town on the southern slopes of an active complex volcano, Mount Asama. Named by the town where it is headquartered, Karuizawa is located in northwest of Tokyo, which is less than two hours by train, the only town hosting summer and winter Olympic events. Cool in summer and snowy in winter, create specific atmospheric conditions ideal for whiskey maturation. These conditions have been documented with the unique properties of Karuizawa single malt for decades, helping to maintain high alcohol content and a concentrated complex taste. Regarding materials, there are rumors that Macallan may be the source of inspiration. One thing is for sure, they come from the same grain and wood that imported Golden Promise barley from the UK and Sherry casks from Spain.
According to Scottish whiskey distillery standards, Karuizawa has a short lifespan. Established in 1955. For whisky fans, 1956 is the year that Karuizawa was put on the map. Production began in early 1957.
It was difficult to get malt in Japan at the time and Karuizawa initially struggled. However, in 1958, import restrictions were relaxed and the distillery began to import barley from the UK, including some Golden Promise – the same type Macallan used at the time – and began to experiment. By 1959, it was producing a Scottish-style spirit which was matured mostly in sherry casks. The resulting whisky was dark and richly flavoured, but as it all went into the company’s blending vats, the distillery and the distillery remained unknown to the general public.
Unfortunately, the whisky market was not as buoyant in Japan as today, and despite its popularity, in 2001 Karuizawa closed.
THE RISE AND FALL
In 1977, Karuizawa’s focus changed along with its name – Karuizawa Factory became Ocean Karuizawa Distillery – and its whisky became destined for both single malt as well as blends. In the late 1980s and 1990s, Karuizawa appeared as a single malt, and it began to pick up a reputation in Japan, although very little left the country.
Unfortunately, the whisky market was not as buoyant in Japan as today, and despite its popularity, in 2001 Karuizawa closed. In 2006, the distillery’s owner – by this time called Mercian – was acquired by drinks giant Kirin and in 2011 Karuizawa’s distilling licence was returned. To put an end to any hopes of a revival, in 2016 the distillery was scrapped and razed to the ground. By 15 March, there was nothing left.
Unfortunately for Karuizawa, it was recognized in the world only after it stopped production. Since 2006, Karuizawa whiskey has been accessible to whiskey lovers from around the world thanks to the Number One Drink company. When the world heard about Karuizawa, they immediately fell in love with the drink produced at a town on the southern slopes of an active complex volcano. Karuizawa has won 12 gold medals from the Number One Drink, awarded by the Malt Maniacs team (the most important global organization of whiskey critics and connoisseurs).
No one knows exactly how many “new” Karuizawa releases will be available. There are still a few casks of Karuizawa left. Now all privately owned, they will be bottled over the coming years as the whisky hits its peak. The story of Karuizawa is legendary and an unrepeatable story.
In this collection #Whisky_Cognac_Museum will provide the most useful information about 10 legendary #Karuizawa bottles in the world.
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