S otheby’s July whisky & spirits sale in Hong Kong, Scenes of Japan | The Ultimate Karuizawa Collection, sees one of the most impressive collections of Karuizawa ever to come to auction. Carefully curated by one single collector, the sale sees almost 100 lots of Karuizawa dating back to 1963 and as aged as long as 50 years. Alongside these the collection includes both distillery and independently bottled Macallan, as well as a number of releases from Taiwanese independent bottler Spirits Shop' Selection.
Scenes of Japan | The Ultimate Karuizawa Collection will be open for bidding online until Tuesday 18th July, at which points the lots will close at 1-minute intervals online from 11AM HKT.
香港蘇富比7月威士忌及烈酒拍賣為藏家帶來「浮世・酒話 | 輕井澤威士忌珍藏」網上專場，誠獻市場上難得一見的輕井澤威士忌瑰釀。本窖藏由一位藏家悉心匯成，包含將近100項輕井澤威士忌，年份最早為1963年，酒齡最高達50年。珍藏並呈原廠及獨立裝瓶的麥卡倫，還有台灣獨立裝瓶商 Spirits Shop' Selection 推出的精緻酒品。
「浮世・酒話 | 輕井澤威士忌珍藏」網上拍賣將於7月18日（星期二）結束，拍品的競投時段將於香港時間當日上午11時起，每一分鐘順序結束一項。
We are delighted to present one of the most impressive collections of Karuizawa ever to come to auction from a single collector, headlined by the standout the Karuizawa 50 Year Old Cask #5132 59.4 abv 1963. Also on offer are bottles many of the most iconic series of Karuizawa; Aqua of Life, Samurai, 36 Views of Mount Fuji and both the Battles of Yashiama and Kawanakajima.
Founded in the 1950s, Karuizawa was a distillery whose future was always uncertain, not least because it was located at the foot of the active volcano, Mount Asama in Nagano Prefecture.
Karuizawa began its life under the ownership of Daikoku-Budoshu, a Japanese wine company with vineyards in Nagano who were looking to expand their portfolio. Karuizawa’s malt was destined to be used in blends and bottled under the name Ocean. Malted barley was difficult to come by in Japan, so Karuizawa began to buy their malt from Scotland. They imported Golden Promise, the same varietal used at Macallan at the time, and once distilled on their small stills they tended to mature the distillate in high quality sherry casks, which also sounds very similar to Macallan’s process. The quality of Karuizawa’s output was high, so high in fact that whisky sales of Ocean began to outperform Daikoku-Budoshu’s wine sales by both volume and value.
As sales increased, Karuizawa’s owners decided to change their company name to Ocean Whisky Co. Ltd to represent their leading brand. Not long after, they merged with Yamanashi Distillery owners Sankrau Shuzo to become Sankrau Ocean. With two malt distilleries now in operation, Karuizawa and Yamanashi were put to a taste test to see which distillery should be chosen as Ocean’s primary outlet. Karuizawa’s whisky was considered far higher quality and became the company’s leading distillery.
Karuizawa’s production continued throughout the 60s and began to gain some popularity in the 70s, however, similarly to Scotch, Japanese whisky went through a decline in the 80s with a drop in sales across the country. Sankrau Ocean changed its name to Mercian in the 90s and began to focus on single malt production from Karuizawa, however this may have been too little too late, and on December 31st 2000 Karuizawa Distillery was mothballed and closed its doors for the last time. The following year a 12 year old Karuizawa was awarded Gold at London’s IWSC and marked the beginning of Japanese whisky’s rise to global popularity.
Mercian was absorbed by Kirin between 2006 and 2010 and the remaining Karuizawa inventory of only 364 casks was sold to a company by the name of Number One Drinks, the oldest among them being Cask #5627, filled in 1960. When this whisky was released in 2013 at 52 years of age it was the oldest Japanese whisky ever to be bottled and the most expensive whisky ever to be sold when it retailed for 2 million yen, double that of the Yamazaki 50 year old which previously held both records.
Karuizawa Distillery was finally demolished in 2016 and so ended a legendary era in the history of Japanese Whisky.
輕井澤 Karuizawa 50 Year Old Cask #5132 59.4 abv 1963 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "命之水(黑)" Karuizawa Aqua of Life 50 Year Old Cask #6223 57.9 abv 1968 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "命之水(白)" Karuizawa Aqua of Life 50 Year Old Cask #538 59.2 abv 1969 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "命之水(白)" Karuizawa Aqua of Life 40 Year Old Cask #6114 57.4 abv 1974 (1 BT75)
輕井澤 "殘念" Karuizawa 40 Year Old Single Sherry Cask #4139 64.9 abv 1977 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "命之水(黑)" Karuizawa Aqua of Life 35 Year Old Cask #7417 55.0 abv 1980 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "雪中相望"系列 Karuizawa 35 Year Old Cask #4322 and #7427 "Snow Scenes" 1981 (2 BT70)
輕井澤 "藝妓" 系列 Karuizawa Geisha Cask #2748 56.1 abv 1982 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "大亂鬥" 系列 Karuizawa Vintage Fight Club Cask #6206 56.5 abv 1986 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "大亂鬥" 系列 Karuizawa Vintage Fight Club Cask #2031 58.4 abv 1987 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "藝妓" 系列 Karuizawa Geisha Cask #7402 60.6 abv 1990 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "藝妓" 系列 Karuizawa Geisha Miyako Odori Cask #897 60.4 abv 1999 (1 BT70)
輕井澤 "藝妓" 系列 Karuizawa Geisha Miyako Odori Cask #2267 60.4 abv 2000 (1 BT70)
One of the most iconic series of Karuizawa, the 36 Views of Mount Fuji incorporates 36 different batches, all from casks distilled in the 1999-2000 vintages. Each label is different, featuring an artistic image of Mount Fuji in different settings. This sale includes 28 different releases.