25 October 2012

Karuizawa 1982 #8497 "Precision Dramineering"

It has to be said that what the Japanese don’t know about making whisky is probably not worth knowing. But on the off chance if there ever is, I’m sure it’d be fairly unimportant and if written down would take up a space no bigger than one of the torn tooth perforations on a stamp.

Those tables have well and truly been turning, and with their ever growing and consistent levels of precision Japanese dramineering, I’m sure they can now teach the rest of the world a thing or two about whisky, including those north of the English border.

In addition to sampling some amazing whiskies over the last year from Japanese dramming heavyweights such as Suntory and Nikka, my two biggest highlights have originated from the slightly lesser known but the equally as fabulous Chichibu and Karuizawa distilleries.

Proving that at times age is nothing but a number, and not necessarily the be all and end all when it comes to producing whisky, Chicibu delighted the world with its first release in the form of a simply outstanding three year old whisky 'The First'. A dram so deliciously deep and complex, that if you were tasting it blind you could quite easily be forgiven for thinking you’re were dramming something four times its actual age.

Moving up the age ladder, I was recently very fortunate enough to sample a couple of new releases from Karuizawa care of those fine folks at The Whisky Exchange. One of which was their first ever bourbon matured offering from 1982, which could be summed up with a simple WOW! But l think it deserves a little more justice than just that.

The nose kicks off with a wowing wanton waft of all things peachy, both of the tinned and oven baked variety. Followed by courageous quaffable whiffs of high rye content bourbon, and an infusion of dark red cherries, spiced dried oak, and a smouldering leather wing armchair that’s just been doused down after being pulled out of a bonfire.

A tray of warm vanilla Danish pastries and a slice of toasted malt loaf that's been conservatively smeared in apricot jam make for the next set of nasal niceties, along with bursts of fizzy cola bottles, Paynes mint cream Poppets and cough candies.

Aromas of toasted walnuts and a box of struck and spent matches then add an additional uplifting level of balance to the proceedings, as does a hot mug of sweet builder’s tea and an eventual subtle appearance of dark spiced caramel and a whiff-ette of Bovril.

The palate kicks off with an ooze-ette of opulent oak and a lingering kiss of a Maraschino cherry that’s been mischievously macerating away in an Old Fashioned cocktail.

Sugared almonds and an infusion of five spice and honey make for the next set of delights, along with a warm wedge of homemade treacle tart, that’s been dutifully drenched in a summer and autumn berry coulis.

Grinds of white pepper, a cup of Turkish coffee and a squirt of vanilla syrup then provide an elevated level of eclectic depth and balance, as does a handful of chopped parsley, a few squares of Fry’s chocolate cream and something subtly aniseed ball-esque.

The finish although a tad hesitant to begin with, is as pleasurable to endure as the nosing and tasting. Infact it goes on to linger and deliver its wares for longer than you may expect. But when it finally gives up delivering its riches and fades away, the phrase of ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’ couldn’t be more appropriate.