• Pronunciation: kary-zau-wa
• Meaning: Name of near by town,
• Founded: 1955
• Closed: Mothballed 2000, Closed 2011
• Region: Japan
• Status: Closed
• Owner: Merican Corporation
• Production Capacity: 150,000 litres per year
(?井?g蒸溜所Karuizawa jōryūsho)Karuizawa distillery was the smallest distillery in Japan. The distillery was established in 1955 on the slopes of Mount Asama, an active volcano. Karuizawa was mothballed in 2000 and the remaining stocks were thankfully ‘saved’ by Ichiro Akuto.
Karuizwa’s style was that of a certain Speyside whisky, they almost exclusively used Golden Promise barley imported from Scotland and primarily maturing whisky in sherry casks imported from Spain. The key to Karuizawa’s success was the hidden earthiness and peatiness that gave many of their legendary single cask bottlings it’s unique character.
The water source used in production has flowed through the volcanic lava rock and soil that surround the distillery, giving it a unique mineral quality. This high quality led Karuizawa to be the first whisky exported out of Japan but ultimately led to their downfall, as both Japan and the world were not ready to accept such a high quality spirit which was not produced in Scotland. As a result, the distillery was not financially viable, which resulted in a great loss for whisky drinkers but produced an interesting rarity for whisky collectors.
With a huge range of single cask bottlings Karuizawa is one of the finest examples of whisky produced world wide. Jim Murray must not have tried one last year.
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