Karuizawa SMWS Tasting Notes

SMWS 132.4 Karuizawa 1996 {Rich, brooding and suggestive}

Japanese whisky. It’s lovely and It used to cost a lot less. I have this one from when it was bottled in 2013. Don’t remember how much it went for, but Not THAT much if you look at the current prices of K’s. According to Whisky Base this one priced at an avg. of € 13,885. But this ain’t saying much. I’ve looked around and the latest auction featuring this one at SWA was £1,250 – still a hefty sum.

At any rate, what counts is the liquid, and we’re going to see how good this one is – I remember liking it quite a bit back then. But memory can be tricky. The whisky was distilled 8th of July 1996 and was aged for 17 years in a refill sherry butt, and bottled at a hefty 61.7% by SMWS.

SMWS 132.4 Karuizawa 1996 ,61.7 % , Sold Out

Image: SWA

Nose: Lovely smoky, and sweet entry, with sticky dark dried fruit: think of Fig, Date, Prune, all engulfed by thick tobacco leaf notes, a tobacco cabinet or humidor if you wish, there’s also a nice stewed fruit note, pears and apple in thick syrup. Lovely old polished wood benches, waxy and zingy with ginger and toffee, some black tea as well. This has got everything one looks for in a Karuizawa, and then some more. Brilliant and complex. I could nose this one forever.

Palate: The palate does not disappoint as well – following the big, brilliant nose, it continues on the same themes: more of the delicious thick and sweet date and fig, covered with dark, rich chocolate, wild honey, toffee and tobacco and dark tea leaf (Lapsang). There’s an ample amount of polished oak as well, a bit dusty and waxy at times, and rich and luscious when it develops. A touch of pepper, cinnamon, and earth, maybe mocha too. Really good.

Finish: Long. quite woody, with more chocolate sprinkled with cinnamon, tobacco leaves, with the bittersweet combo going on for a long time.

Conclusion: This is one of the better SMWS bottlings I’ve had in a long time. It’s just brilliant. Regardless of the Kawuizawa hype, this is one to try, and buy if you can afford it. Luckily I’ve got some more of this. Beautiful classic sherried K. This is what whisky dreams are made of.

Score: 93/100

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