Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Karuizawa 1980/2012 ‘Noh’ for Taiwan

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

The next couple of weeks and months will be an exciting time for Karuizawa fans as a plethora of new bottlings and mini-series is being prepared for release in various parts of the world. Until we can reveal more about these forthcoming releases, we thought we’d feature some drams from the recent past that haven’t received a proper introduction yet.
No point in beating around the bush: this ‘Noh’ bottling for Taiwan (1980/2012, 32yo, #7614, 50.4%abv) is one of the very best Karuizawas we’ve ever had. We’re not going to bother with superlatives – this is whisky in a class of its own. On the nose, it’s like a diva’s dressing room: lovely perfumy notes, flowers, fresh fruit, loads of nuts, raspberry mousse, strawberries with balsamic vinegar, ‘After Eights’, old manuscripts, … and the whole exquisitely balanced. This is the sort of rare whisky in which every aroma has an air of being glad to be together. What an incredible delight.

On the palate, the main tonalities are sweet and sour: lemon curd, grapefruit jelly, green apples drizzled with lemon, tart cherries and chocolate, acerola juice, cranberry granola with rhubarb jam… If you’re a fan of this sort of yin-yang interplay of sweet and sour, you’ll love this whisky. The finish reveals a lovely herbal dimension – mint, thyme and eucalyptus – against a seemingly endless afterglow of sudachi (a Japanese citrus fruit – a signature note of old Karuizawas, here in full HD) and candied lemon peel.

It’s hard to capture this tour-de-force of a whisky in words: it’s incredibly fresh, vibrant and intense but everything’s so beautifully balanced and just… well, just right.  A desert island whisky if ever there was one. If you ever come across this particular Noh release – and chances are slim (there were only 102 bottles to start with and people in Taiwan know their whisky) – don’t hesitate… even – or especially! – if you’re the biggest Karuizawa-sceptic in the world.

Read more about Karuizawa Distillery here.

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