Karuizawa 1988 (The Whisky Fair)

This Karuizawa 1988 was part of a duo that was bottled for The Whisky Fair in 2007. A small part of this sherry butt was bottled by Whiskysite.nl in their Great Cask series.

You know, I believe this may well be one of the last Karuizawas I’ll ever review. I have no samples left and with the current prices, who can afford to actually open one, let alone share it with others?



Karuizawa 1988 - The Whisky FairKaruizawa 19 yo 1988 (58,3%, The Whisky Fair 2007, refill butt, 480 btl.)

A surprisingly pale colour on this. Nose: a rare chance to try Karuizawa without the heavy sherry, but not the usual bourbon profile either. Without Oloroso, that is, there are some hints of chalky Fino. Dusty cellars and waxed paper, as well as huge minty notes and cigar boxes. Faint peat. Underneath are some fruity notes (yellow plum) and a hint of tiger balm and incense. It’s funny how this one is rather oriental and rather Karuizawa, even though it misses the most obvious side.

Mouth: quite sweet (pear, pineapple) but also quite herbal / bitter (ginger tea, heavy salty liquorice). A smoky hint of matchsticks. Surprisingly peaty.

Finish: long, peaty, with lemon zest, bitter wood and ginger.

This is an odd cask – I can’t think of any other Karuizawa like this. On the one hand, very interesting to find similarities and differences with the classic profile. On the other hand it falls below the usual level of this distillery. Around € 1500.

Score: 85/100