The following originally appeared on Guid Scotch Drink on February 18, 2013:
Nine months after receiving a sample of the wonderful Glenfarclas 1953 from Master of Malt and Wealth Solutions I was very surprised to sign for an unexpected package that just so happened to contain a sample of Karuizawa 1964. It's an honor and a privilege to be on a mailing list that results in me receiving such exceptional bottlings!
Karuizawa distillery, in the Nagano Prefecture, was opened in 1956 meaning that this 1964 spirit was laid down when the distillery was a mere eight years old (or just a tad older than Kilchoman is now). Now dismantled, the remaining casks have been purchased from Kirin by the Number One Drinks Company. This single cask offering from Wealth Solutions is limited to 142 bottles, filled at a whopping 57.7% Alc. and at 48 years old. It sells for £9000 a bottle.
C: Sanguine copper
N: Little prickly, bitter dark chocolate, black tea with orange spice, toasted oak cakes, dusty mahogany mantle pieces, peanut brittle, burnt sugar, herbaceous oils (sage, eucalyptus), buttered popcorn, Kola Kubes, and plimsolls
P: Heat explodes across the palate, difficult to discern much beyond dark wood, cherry pits, and abundant bitter dark chocolate -- definitely reaching for water with this one...
F: Burns quickly, leaving behind scorched leather, dusty banisters, dark honey and beeswax
N: No prickle whatsoever, toffee apples, peanut brittle, leather shoes, church bibles, dark wood, and dark cherry cordial
P: Still a little hot, with treacle toffee, burnt green sticks, and black tea leaves,
F: Longer finish with water, dark cherries coated with dark chocolate, more dark honey and beeswax, and antique leather armchairs
In conclusion: A hot drop that definitely benefits from the water. The dark notes are a lot of fun (even if it leaves the whisky sounding like a bit of a brooding, tempestuous scoundrel!) but it's the honey and beeswax notes that really elevate this whisky for me.
I had the distinct pleasure of tasting this with Joshua Hatton of Jewmalt. His notes are here.
Sincere thanks to Master of Malt, Wealth Solutions, and Number One Drinks Company for this official (and completely unexpected) sample.