Review by Nonjatta contributor - Serge Valentin
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"Karuizawa 31 yo Vintage 1974 (65.7%, OB, cask #4578, 25cl)
Amazing strength at 31yo, let’s have a lot of water on the table (on the side for now but...)
Colour: deep amber with brownish hues.
Nose: a sherried version, obviously. Rather rough, smoky, toasted, with whiffs of walnut stain, plum sauce and strawberry jam, but this one will destroy your nostrils as surely as night follows day if you don’t take immediate measures: add water. Ho-ho, but it got quite superb in the process! Very leafy and leathery, with a lot of Havana tobacco (new box of Partagas – whatever – that you just opened). Goes on with a little shoe polish, very old sweet wine (Banyuls), whiffs of camphor and incense... And a lot of plum jam and plum sauce (like the one they serve with Peking duck. I like this a lot.
Mouth (neat): err, this is very rough. Very kirschy, spirity and very hot... With water: oh yes it’s superb whisky! It’s amazing how water worked here (another Ian Thorpe – sorry, I don’t know Japanese swimmers). Beautiful oak, beautiful walnuts, beautiful sherry, beautiful plum sauce and excellent dryness.
Finish: long, maybe a tad tannic and drying now but still beautifully sherried, with hints of mint in the background and kind of a pleasant savageness in a certain way. 91 points." (Serge`s scoring system is explained on this page.)
65.7 per cent (abv)
The picture above is of a small 250 ml bottle. This one is also available in a 700ml for which you may have to pay well in excess of 50,000 yen. This shop sells this range.