The Karuizawa I reviewed on Tuesday didn’t impress me overmuch; will this one, a single cask bottled for K&L in 2013, be better? This came with one of the striking “Noh” labels usually associated with much older single cask Karuizawas—it doubtless helped justify the cost: about $150 at the time (which would, of course, be a steal now, just two years later, for a 13 yo Karuizawa). Let’s get right to it.
Karuizawa 13, 1999 (57.7%; cask #869 for K&L; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Oh, this is much better to begin. Rich, nutty sherry with hints of chocolate, leather and earth (I was gardening today) with some orange peel and gunpowder behind it. The gunpowder starts getting stronger and then transitions to rubber and then, alas, to the sharper kind of sulphur. But most of it burns off soon enough, leaving behind tobacco and a growing fruitiness (marmalade, apricot). With more time there’s some cola concentrate and some beef stock. Water brings out some toffee and some caramel and cream and knocks the sulphur back even further.
Palate: Very much as promised by the nose and very drinkable at full strength. Starts with the gunpowder and then moves into the expected dark sherry constellation of flavours. The fruit’s not here at first (or second). Let’s give it some time. With more time the fruit does show up (orange peel mostly) but, alas, so does some sharper sulphur. All the good stuff is still here (along with some darker chocolate) but it’s hard to overlook the increasingly furry sensation in my mouth. Water pushes the sulphur back further here too but it’s still palpable. It also bring out more of the sweeter notes (a bit of cherry liqueur now) and then more of the chocolate and citrus (brighter now).
Finish: Medium-long. It’s the darker notes that last the longest (tobacco, chocolate, leather). Water adds some pepper and some orange peel.
Comments: Much better than the other one though not without sulphur taint of its own (though with time and water it settles down nicely). I have to say that in general this is very Glendronach. And if you pay the probable auction price for this instead of just getting a similar Glendronach for a fraction of the price you need your head examined.
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to Gimmeadram for the sample!