Karuizawa - The Emerald Geisha

Posted by: Allanah
21 February 2018

Japan's most desirable distillery?

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Way back when, in 1955, Karuizawa came into being. At the time, it was Japan's smallest distillery, barely producing 150,000 of spirit annually from just four pot stills. Though small, a conscientious effort was made to closely mimic Scottish conditions, in order to produce the most traditional malt possible. No easy feat, in another continent with a vastly different climate... 

The distillery was nestled nearly 1,000 meters above sea level on Mount Asama, a very active volcano. Underpinning this rationale was the notion that the temperatures and humidity found in Japan's highest distillery would achieve a microclimate similar to Scotland. Golden promise barley was imported from Scotland (as had been used by Macallan for all their expressions for a number of years), and Spanish sherry casks which, once holding the distilled spirit, would sit to mature in an ivy-covered warehouse (again, all about those climactic conditions). The process is not unfamiliar. But, add to this Karuizawa's use of water from the nearby volcano, and the spirit has a very distinguishable edge.

Whilst made so very traditionally, there is no forgetting that this is a Japanese malt. And the "Emerald Geisha" seems a very fitting testament to that. "Emerald" in particular, as Karuizawa closed its doors in 2000 making their whisky now somewhat of a rarity; not unlike a precious gem. From a single bourbon cask - of which the yield was only 265 bottles - 35 Year Old Karuizawa is a floral yet dark expression. One of two releases from London's Elixir Distillers, the 35 Year old is also accompanied by a 33 year old expression from a Karuizawa sherry cask. Both bottles are beautifully embossed in emerald packaging with adorned with a stunning colourful Geisha. 

Whisky Exchange's cofounder, Sukhinder Singh, stated the Emerald "offers rich, intense tropical fruit notes... For collectors of old and rare Japanese whisky this is a unique opportunity to acquire single cask bottling that simply won't exist in the future".

It's not a surprise, then, that the Emerald Geisha is winning praise around the world. A rare Japanese malt made with the most traditional of methods, the Emerald Geisha stands as testament to both tradition and fearless creativity.

And, of course, getting the microclimate right. Obviously.


This lot sold February 2018 for £5,500.00

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