Karuizawa 1981 La Maison Du Whisky – An Olympic Parisian

La Maison du Whisky is France’s leading whisky retailer, and the purveyors of Whisky Live Paris, which is one of the Continent’s foremost whisky events of the year. Whisky Live Paris is usually held on the last weekend  in September, one week before The Whisky Show in London. This whisky is linked also by another, much bigger (if not necessarily more interesting) event: the Olympics.

The Karuizawa Distillery was located in the mountainous Nagano District, in central Japan, where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held. Paris held the 1924 Olympic games, and is bidding to host the 2024 games. The distillery was located on the lower slopes of Japan’s most active volcano, Mount Asama (yes, a Karuizawa whisky was, indeed, named for the mountain).

“Mount Asama” by Ski Mania Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

In summer 2014 La Maison du Whisky bottled a 1981 single cask of Karuizawa whisky, tasted as part of my belated birthday premium night, following the absolutely gorgeous 1980 Samurai Karuizawa I tasted at The Whisky Show which was released just the other week  🙂

The charred oak effect in this expression is pretty strong, and without water (and you would add a few drops to this….) it was almost like a light peated effect. Fascinating dram….

Photo Credit: whiskyauctioneer.com

Photo Credit: whiskyauctioneer.com

1981 Karuizawa, La Maison Du Whisky, Cask 136 (55.3% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, thick and viscous leaving a lot of residue and a persistent necklace.

Nose: Light spice and a gentle creamy custard. In the background wood spices and tobacco. Hints of citrus and sherry with wood and a light note of BBQ meat.

Palate: Is this peat? It sure feels like it, though not the dirty island peat, and none of it on the nose. I’ll just count that as oak, and a lot of it. Fresh ginger root, ground cloves and licorice in a very dry delivery. Water strengths the wood, cleans it up a bit.

Linger: Extremely dry with star anise and nutmeg and a sweet and sout sherry on the tongue. Down the gullet the spice is strong.


Beautifully balanced with a massive sherry and oak battle going on, with a fascinating (phantom?) smoky note going on in the background.

Santé Franck!

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