Karuizawa 33 yo 1981/2014 (55.3%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, sherry, cask #136) La Maison seem to be leading the pack these days as far as numbers of new Karuizawas are concerned. They already had a wee bunch earlier this year, and here’s a brand new sherried 1981, possibly similar to their excellent cask #152 that came out around April. Colour: rich amber. Nose: isn’t Karuizawa the only malt that’s capable of standing heavy oak in such… err, relaxed manner? Because this is very oaky (some old bourbons come to mind), and yet it’s very superb, perfectly mentholated, infused with liquorice wood, wormwood, old-style herbal liqueurs (Bénédictine) and plenty of other roots and herbs, such as ginseng. The sherry’s not very exuberant here, but that may come once water’s been added. So, with water: love this. Much menthol, anise, camphor, fresh pinewood, almond oil, hessian, old wardrobe… Hey, I even find (half a) mothball. Mouth (neat): it’s amazing that all old Karuizawas are so different from each other. Once again, the oak’s playing first fiddle here, but some dried fruits are singing in the background (S., musical metaphors are very last year, you know.) Plenty of kumquats and bergamots, for example. Or some kind of lemony raisins. Mandarine Impériale, quinine, more ginseng… All this is very huge, concentrated, and yet it’s neither heavy nor too ‘massive’. With water: the most wonderful wood extraction. Herbs and roots ad libitum. Finish: long, herbal, earthy… Comments: ginseng whisky? That should be good for our health! More please… SGP:471 - 93 points.