During the Whisky Live Tokyo 2013 Number One Drinks officially presented the oldest and rarest japanese whisky ever bottled a 53 years old single cask, the Karuizawa 1960! The launch party was held on april 21 at the Belle Salle Shibuya Garden in Tokyo.
Two months after the Karuizawa 1964 release, Number One Drinks (British company of alcohol distribution) did it again with the Karuizawa 1960. Bottled "cask strength" (natural degree of alcohol, 53.2%), this whisky was distilled and put into barrels in 1960, five years after the creation of the distillery. It is therefore the oldest Japanese whisky and Karuizawa remaining cask ever bottled for sale ! The cask # 5627 is a hogshead (250 liter barrel) of spanish oak wood used for the maturation of sherry.
The Karuizawa distillery was founded in 1955 by Mercian to produce a pure scottish-style whisky. Barley from Scotland, distillation in small stills and matured in sherry cask are the typical characteristics of the first whiskies produced in Karuizawa. But how it would be after 53 years of maturation? The opinions of professionals who have had the honor and privilege to taste it are unanimous: it is indeed an exceptional whisky!
In the late 90's, the Mercian Wine company, owner of the distillery, met some financial difficulties and in 2000 the decision was made to cease production of whisky. Kirin a famous japanese brewer, bought Mercian and closed Karuizawa permanently. Since 2006 Number One Drinks took over the management of the 364 remaining barrels. As the destruction of the site was determined, the last barrels were moved in 2007 to Chichibu (new distillery founded in 2007 by Ichiro Akuto) to be stored and bottled later.
Passionated by japanese whisky, Marcin Miller (right in the photo) founder of Number One Drinks and smart strategist, manages last stocks sparingly. His work for the development of Karuizawa whiskies is remarkable. The proof is with the specially created box for the 41 bottles of this exceptional whisky.
It's the design agency Contagious specialized in high-end alcohol boxes who was responsible for the design of the beautiful box prepared in accordance with japanese tradition. Composed of parts from the original Sherry cask, the box was assembled according to the model of traditional Japanese puzzle boxes by a famous British cabinetmaker. For the label, the paper used was handmade by Norito Hasegawa, descendant of a family of Japanese traditional paper manufacturer. The calligraphy was entrusted to Soji Nishimoto calligrapher multi awarded.
You can really tell that the work done by all the artists who collaborated to create the Karuizawa 1960 box and bottle is quite up to the age and rareness of this whisky. Indeed each of the 41 bottles double-layer glass is named according to the netsuke (small japanese traditional carved wooden object used to hang a small bag to the kimono) hanging from his neck, which makes them even more unique.
A few releases will be available for sale in Europe, but you will still pay the modest sum of £ 12,500 or about 14,600 euros to be one of the lucky owner of one of the existing bottles ...