Whiskey production began a long time ago in Japan. Broadly speaking, the Japanese whiskey is more similar to the Scottish whiskey than any other major styles of whiskey. There are several companies producing whiskey in Japan with the smallest distillery known as “Karuizawa Distillery.” Let’s take a closer look at its history.
Karuizawa Distillery was founded in 1955 and situated in Asama vineyard to the west of the town of Karuizawa, which is a popular mountain resort for Tokyo high-flyers. The Japanese whiskey was booming at this time that’s why the Mercian Wine Company decided to set the distillery up. Karuizawa’s location was chosen as it closely resembles that of Scotland’s though the summer’s much hotter and the winter’s much colder. Although it was the smallest distillery in the country, its ambition was big. Thus, it adopted top standards in the production of whiskey. It incorporated the use of Golden Promise, a famous barley. The whiskey’s were distilled in small batches and aged their spirits in finest Spanish cherry casks which made the malt a perfect top quality. The water would come from the rivers which flowed through or over the volcanic lava surrounding the place which made its taste unique. It became very popular due to its high quality but low production capacity which made its whiskey rare.
Early releases were mostly blends appearing under the “Sanraku Ocean” brand name. These were affordable and popular with the single malt shake being released in 1976. Although Karuizawa followed uncompromising principles, it was ironic that its persistence was unsustainable commercially at that time. The market was not yet ready to accept such Japanese premium malt. Its production was stopped in 2000 and was completely closed in 2011.
As of now, Karuizawa’s old stocks are considered to be the rarest and most precious ever existing in the market. It seems like this diminishing whiskey will become a treasure exclusively for the rich very soon.
Why not go get some while it is still available and affordable?