Nose: The same elements as the 48% version, but with more noticeable sweetness now and a bigger emphasis on the raisins. Big notes of polished oak. Gets earthier with time in the glass, with autumn leaves and faint notes of very dark chocolate. Even a cursory nosing reveals this to be a much more serious beast. After about 15 mins, the nose transmogrifies into something really special, with old medium-sweet sherry, ancient varnished benches, Black Forest gateau and a hint of balsamic vinegar.
Palate: Pretty big and hot at full strength. Sweet and grapey / raisiny, then a very powerful oaky spice wave, then sweeter hints again, with the dark chocolate and hints of rich treacle – faintly resembles a cask strength navy rum in places. Finally the earthy, leafy, mossy character comes to the fore.
Finish: Warm, savoury, dry and very long.
Comments: Despite the age, this is a Karuizawa that has to be taken seriously. It’s pretty amazing to get such a clear view of the distillery character without the thunderous sherry influence (glorious as it is) that so dominates the majority of the ‘normal’ single cask releases. To add water would be to defeat the purpose of the dual bottling, so I didn’t.