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The most cult of Japanese whiskies, closed since 2001. Famed for its intense, sherry cask matured drams, its popularity has been rapidly growing in recent years. With demand skyrocketing and the number of casks available quickly falling prices are rising.
Karuizawa was actually a vineyard in 1955 when then-owner Daikoku-budoshu decided to enter a Japanese whisky industry still in its infancy, and base a distillery in the shadow of active volcano, Mount Asama.
The distillery was tiny and the aim was traditional, small-scale production to create quality whiskies. Karuizawa used 100% Golden Promise barley, wooden washbacks, small stills and sherry casks sourced from Spain.
Karuizawa's whiskies are perhaps the closest you'll find to the Scottish malt style in Japan but they still had their own unique character. The water was filtered through lava and the distillery also experienced very hot summers and extremely cold winters which resulted in a different maturation profile.