Tasting Notes from whisky-pages.com (Gavin D. Smith)
Distilled in 1981, the latest cask strength bottling of a Japanese single malt from the Number One Drinks Company is its first peated expression from the Karuizawa distillery. Karuizawa’s working practices are closely modelled on traditional Scottish ways of whisky-making, utilising only Golden Promise barley and Spanish ex-Sherry casks.
During the 1980s, the small distillery experimented with peated malt from Scotland at a time when Japanese import duty on it was lower than on unpeated malt, and this 26-year-old expression is an early peated offering.
The nose is big and gutsy. Initially, molasses and worn leather, with a distinct note of dryish smoke developing, plus liquorice and rich, mature oak. Water releases background notes of wood polish.
The palate offers an intriguing balance of sweet and dry flavours, plus smoke, with stewed plums and mixed spices winning through. Medium to long in the finish, with some lingering fruit and pleasantly drying oak. A final kick of spice and quite sweet peat. Classic old Sherry wood and peated malt whisky. A venerable beast. Are we sure it isn’t Scotch?