Karuizawa was a small distillery that produced first-class malt whiskeys. And it was the most cult of Japanese whiskies, from a distillery closed since 2001.
Karuizawa's whiskies are perhaps the closest you'll find to the Scottish malt style in Japan but they still had their own unique character. The water was filtered through lava and the distillery also experienced very hot summers and extremely cold winters which resulted in a different maturation profile.
The distillery exclusively used Golden Promise barley and primarily matured whisky in sherry casks. The key to Karuizawa’s success was the hidden earthiness and peatiness that gave many of their legendary single cask bottling it’s unique character.
Setting in the foothills of Mount Asama where the water source used in production has flowed through the volcanic lava rock and soil that surround the distillery, giving it a unique mineral quality. The chilly climate provided an excellent location for whiskey making. The storehouse of Karuizawa was also covered in ivy, which is said to assist in keeping the temperature and humidity at exactly the right levels for producing good whisky. Though the distillery was already closed down, there won’t be any more Karuizawa bottles in the future, making each and every one more valuable.