Most whisky enthusiasts will remember the Glenflarclas 1953, bottled on 13 February 2012. The 1964 Karuizawa will be launched in Warsaw exactly one year later. If Michal keeps doing this annually, Poland will probably be the best place on earth to be for the whisky enthusiast on Valentine’s Day. Just to get the facts out of the way: cask #3603 was filled on 1 September 1964 and bottled at cask-strength (57.7% abv) on Christmas Eve 2012. It yielded a mere 143 bottles – all of which have been presold to Wealth Solutions clients. One lone bottle will be available from Master of Malt, but not for very long, I suspect.
“Nose: starts off with a prelude of annin dofu (almond tofu) and maraschino cherries, which soon gives way to a triple fugue of forest notes, tree fruit notes and waxed wood notes. The initial interplay is between the forest notes: suggestive of a forest in spring after rain, incredibly fresh, with hints of pine trees, boulder fern, sandalwood and a feint eucalyptus note. Soon after, seemingly out of nowhere, fruit notes start to appear: overripe apricots, Yubari melon (a Hokkaido cantaloupe variety), nashi (Japanese pears), some dates in the background. Underneath these are subtle hints of blood oranges and ruby grapefruits. On the back of these fruit notes, something reminiscent of a recently polished chapel starts to develop, with some freshly-baled hay, heather honey and a hint of freshly-crushed pink pepper thrown in the mix. Water tends to foreground the fruit notes, pushing green apples and underripe peach notes to the fore; it also brings some wet grass drying in the sun to the party.
Palate: the nose sets up certain expectations, but the palate gracefully sidesteps these expectations, only to reveal a whole new dimension – such is the complexity of this whisky. Neat, the initial impressions are acerola, brambles, gooseberries and orange liqueur. There’s also a distinct kashiwa mochi (rice cake wrapped in oak leaf) note. The sour – pleasantly sour, that is – flavours soon give way to an equally pleasant and seductive bitterness: goya, walnut skins, kale-and-green-apple juice, and an ever so slight liquorice note. As if that’s not beguiling enough, water brings out a prominent sudachi (a Japanese citrus fruit) note – something I never thought I’d find in a whisky but there it is! How a whisky this old can be this refreshing is just one of the great mysteries of the universe.
The finish is medium-long with hints of kiwi jam, also lingonberry jam, sweet-and-sour sauce, goya again, and an incredibly delicate sweetness at the centre of it all.