Friday, July 27, 2012

Mercian Karuizawa 12yo Original Bottle KR-12Y 40%abv

Nose: Stunning! Where do I begin? Mashed banana, toffee apples, brewed ground coffee beans (in paper filter), the tinniest floral hint: lavender, lemon meringue pie, and a heavy dose of malt. Initially compound chocolate and toffee honeycomb is present.

Taste: Burnt toffee, heavy on the oak, slightly dusty, malty, mint tea, and weak charcoal filtered coffeebut all very pleasant in every way.

Finish: Pulls up a bit short with not a lot going on. Except the transition from weak non sweetened black iced coffee to the mouthfeel of chewing on an ice-block stick (but again not in a bad way).

Comments: This tasting was without water, none needed in my opinion. The dimple shape bottle of the OB 12-year-old is presumably mid 90's. Interesting, usually when a bottle reaches the half way mark extra aromas and taste develop, with this I thought the opposite, aromas have possibly faded away from when I originally cracked the bottle and poured my first dram. Perhaps it's all in the mood and atmosphere? All in all a fantastic Karuizawa, a bottling I picked up at a hidden back street mom & pop store. Looking forward to tracking it down again, well at least try to.

Reviewed by Clint A


  1. Well done Clint. Nice to see a review of this version of the OB 12. In my experience the OB 12 has a different profile depending on the era so each is of great historical value. I hear you might have picked it up for a good price ; )
    Try it again in a week or so as first dram of a session on a clean palate and I bet you find something new(or old).
    How many dust covered treasures must be sitting on shelves in similar mom and pop stores around Japan? Give me a year in Japan and a decent google map as I'd love to find out!!

  2. Thanks for the suggestion Brian (Dramtastic), I'll be sure to give another go in a few days with a clean palate, I'll be sure to make it the first malt of the day, and see what changes occur. I really love the nose on this so I'm forever nosing straight from the bottle, which I believe is slightly different from that of a glass, and every time I do there is something lush in there which I cannot pinpoint. Perhaps stewed wild peaches from the bush?

    As for the cost, yes you heard right, certainly a pre Karuizawa boom price. Originally it was marked quite high but over the years the guy at the shop (in his 70s I'd guess) marked it down, to the RRP it would have originally been. There are many of these mom & pop stores all over Japan, many that are still running the way they did 20 years ago, with out all the advancements, and the majority still have as many old bottlings as they do new due to geographics and demographics. The Karuizawa distillery is sadly lost to us all but the spirit will continue to live on through the findings of these out dated but interesting stores of yesteryear.

  3. Congratulations on your find, Clint, that malt seems to be a real treasure trove! Looking forward to seeing you uncover more of this stuff!

  4. Thanks Pierre, sorry for the belated reply. I will be making it my mission to uncover many more treasure troves, which I cannot wait to share.

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