Karuizawa distillery was established in 1955 in the town of Miyota on the southern slopes of Mount Asama. It began production the following year, producing single malt for the Ocean blends from Daikoku Budoshu. Initially it was difficult for the distillery to obtain malt, but a lift on import restrictions in 1958 meant the distillery was able to experiment with the production of a Speyside-esque product, importing the same golden promise barely used at Macallan, and sherry casks. The subsequent quality of output saw it appearing in Japan as a single malt for the first time in the 1980s. Sadly, the Japanese whisky market was not strong at the time, and Karuizawa was closed in 2001 by owners, Mercian, and eventually dismantled. Its legacy is lives on however, with its still relocated to other distilleries in Japan, but predominantly in the hugely sought-after single cask releases that began to appear in 2007, from independent bottler, Number One Drinks. It is now one of the most prestige single malts on the planet, the reverence for which only grows as the remaining stock continues to thin.
Aged in sherry oak hogsheads and bottled at 51.8% abv, Karuizawa 1960 is presented in a case modeled after traditional Japanese puzzle boxes that have been handcrafted by a British cabinetmaker and adorned with pieces from the original cask head. The label’s handmade paper is embellished by multi-award winning calligrapher Soji Noshimoto, while every bottle is named after the individual netsuke – miniature wooden sculptures – that hangs from its neck, emphasising the uniquity of each bottle. The release is described as having a mossy nose that evokes “old woods in Autumn”, and a palate of “dense black fruits”. Karuizawa 1960 Cask #5627 was released 2013 and was available in the UK from The Whisky Exchange at £12,500 per bottle. La Maison du Whisky, Magny International and Whisk-e are responsible for distribution in France, Taiwan and Japan respectively.
with only 41 bottles made, it is almost impossible to get hold of Karuizawa 1960 52 year old today and the few times this bottle has gone to auction, it has broken its own record every time. The retail price which was £ 12,500 which was considered a lot for this bottle in 2013 is really nothing compared to what the market price is today. In March 2020, this bottle went to sotheby`s auction house for £ 363,000 and the price is likely to be higher at the next auction this bottle will appear on.