Rare Japanese whisky – Kurazaiwa’s Asama 46%

Much as I’m a fan of most of the Japanese whiskies I’ve sampled til date, the price tag keeps getting steeper and steeper. And that is if you can even find what you seek!

In my whisky quest in Tokyo last year, something from the discontinued Kurazaiwa distillery was on my ‘wish list’ however I did not have any luck and was advised to try auctions…

So when my aunt and uncle offered a sample of Asama, I jumped at the opportunity!

Asama (Whisky Lady's uncle)

Asama (Whisky Lady’s uncle)

Here goes for the Asama 46% (Karuizawa 1999+2000)

  • Colour – Burnished copper
  • Nose – Musty and mysterious – not in a bad way. Raisins, a little citrus. As it airs, has a distinctive sweet almond paste aroma, the lightest curl of tobacco, definite sherry influence
  • Taste – Warm, chewy, lots of raisins, that same musty element, perhaps mushrooms? Almost fudge-like or creamy daifuku
  • Finish – Oddly tea like… and more raisins and berries
  • Water – I almost didn’t add…  and then honestly wished I hadn’t. Just a few drops kicked up the spice but dulled the more interesting elements and drowned that oddly appealing tea-like element in the finish
  • Overall – While interesting, it certainly isn’t exceptional

This Asama was selected from 1999 and 2000 vintages, bottled and distilled at the now discontinued Karuizawa Distillery in its last two years of operation. Aged 11 years, it is part of the stock purchased by Number One Drinks Company.

The name ‘Asama’ comes from Mount Asama, an active volcano near where the Karuizawa distillery operated from 1955 – 2000. There have been a series of ‘Spirit of Asama’ released in small quantities over the years, of which this ‘Asama’ is considered entry-level for this increasingly rare Japanese whisky coveted by collectors.

It is certainly distinctive, however is it worth the fuss about Karuizawa? Yes and no… it is teasingly different and makes one want to explore what else Karuizawa has to offer.

However is this particular expression exceptional? Not really.

Do I have any regret about tasting it? Heck no!

What a treat and many thanks to my fabulous aunt and uncle back in Canada for the sample.

Canadian stash

Canadian stash…

Here’s what others say:

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2 thoughts on “Rare Japanese whisky – Kurazaiwa’s Asama 46%

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