• Malt&Bean

Karuizawa 1981/2013 Cask 6056

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

The Best Karuizawa Ever?

Karuizawa needs no introduction - for those that have tasted it, it is liquid legend. For those that collect it, it continues to go up in value and many collectors/investors don't think it will ever stop producing returns as the distillery has been shuttered and demolished. I can't say I agree with that but the historical returns on whisky are quite compelling. Lets dig into that in a later post though...

This particular #Karuizawa is legendary, as admitted by the bottlers, The Whisky Exchange:

...it might just be the best [Karuizawa] that we've bottled...

Granted, this was posted in 2013 when the bottle was released, but even by then there were some epic bottles on the market (think cask 6426). The reviews on WhiskyBase are nothing short of amazing, and a few people I know that have tried both cask 6426 and this bottle claimed this one was even better. It doesn't hurt that this is significantly cheaper too 😅

Well, lets get tasting!


[Bottle Review]

Distillery: Karuizawa

Vintage: 1981

Bottling Date: 2013

Cask Type: 1st Fill Sherry Cask

ABV: 60.3%

# bottles: 348

Bottled for: The Whisky Exchange

Auction price at time of writing: ~$5000 Original Retail Price: ~$327


A hint of glue, salted meat like bacon, rubber, old rum (molasses), leather and tobacco, nuts (all kinds), reduced red and black berry sauce, leather comes back (so much leather), really aromatic black teas (floral and bitter), chocolate raspberry Godiva (the starfish! anyone know what im talking about?), sour sherry and cherries, some raisins, black licorice, red licorice, all the licorice! Very beautiful - old and elegant. After more time, it opens up further with aromatic baking spices, dill pickles, some salt and motorcycle oil (that sounds terrible but in the right context...), more salt and then vinegar, nutmeg and clove, and then moves into a more herbaceous territory. Wow, this really moves around, quite epic! One of those you can sit with and just smell for half an hour.



The meats have arrived! With a side of oily leather, some syrup (Cherry Dr. Pepper to be exact!), very chewy and massive. Stewed strawberries, classic old school sherry notes, matchstick (less sulfur and more on the ashy/bonfire side of things), balanced wood spice, eucalyptus, Manuka honey. And then over time the Manuka turns into the sweet regular honey, but immediately back to bitter on the espresso notes. Balsamic vinegar with some black pepper mixed in...going into the finish it leads me to jammy black and blue fruits



Ah, the mushroom and earthy notes I adore from other Karuizawa show up now!Mostly shiitake if you're wondering. Syrupy black and blue fruits continue, tobacco, umami and meaty notes, menthol, brown sugar, spicy oak notes which become a tad drying, and that chewy sensation continues. Forever, because its a Looooooong finish 👌



Final Score = 95.3


Now this is an amazing whisky, no doubt about it. Best karuizawa I have ever had? I can't definitively say yes (casks 4380, 3662 and 6426 come to mind), but it's extremely close and definitely in my Top 5 whiskies of recent memory. I also think when you get to this level of deliciousness, its splitting hairs - which is all the more reason to take notes and give a number ranking!

Would I drop $5000 on this if I had the disposable income? Yes 🥳


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