Friday, April 16, 2010

Karuizawa 14yo (Swedish Independent Bottling)



Life seems to be going by in fast forward. Back in October last year (I can't believe it was so long ago!) Tapani Kuusela and Johan Hofvander contacted me to say they had bottled their own Karuizawa 14-year-old single cask whisky (cask 5024). It was distilled back in 1995 and matured and aged in a wine cask. There are 114 bottles at 66 per cent alcohol and Tapani was kind enough to send me a sample. He also advised me to make sure I added some water when I tasted it. My impressions:
I tasted it a few weeks ago and then tried it again in my footy-viewing-cum-Chichibu newborn-tasting session. The nose was much less active than the newborn's: very controlled and not at all outgoing. A bit of snuffling around and slight cereal and butter smells began emerging. Despite Tapani's guidance, I sipped without water at first. It was very overpowering but I just about caught the sweet, slightly winey, piney tastes.

I added a number of drops of water, which it definitely needed, and found a pleasant, warming drink. A really dry character emerged. My notes read like this: "Dry. Wood, tobacco on my tongue like when smoking a badly made rollie. Finish: long brewed tea (no milk)." I liked it. Right at the end of the session, I added another drop or two of water and the taste seemed to take another sharp turn: the sweetness was back, with a really satisfying butterscotch taste in my last sip. But, sadly, the sample bottle was empty, so I could do no more exploring. I suppose it is experiences like this that make me skeptical about my (not other people's) ability to categorise whiskies with a wham-bam-thankyou-mam "Nose, mouth, finish" sort of classification. They move too much for me.
Overall, I enjoyed this experience and feel a little envious of of Tapani and Johan's enterprise in arranging this unique indy bottling. The dryness will stay in my memory.

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