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Karuizawa Offering: Japan's Mythical Whisky


The Oak Barrel is delighted to offer a range of Japanese whiskies from the closed Karuizawa distilleries that in 2017 will be rarely rivalled anywhere in the world.


The world’s most collectable whisky distillery in recent years, we’ve pulled together a collection of bottles sourced from our own archives and private collections.

Ranging from the very top end to rarely seen oddities and some of the last available releases, the collection extremely rare, expressions like a 1982 Noh and a 30-Year-Old ‘Geisha’. There’s also Batch 1 and 2 of the Cask Strength series, the ‘as-dark-as-Coke’ sherry cask Memories Of Karuizawa’ and an 8-year-old Pure Malt official bottling from when the distillery was still active. See them here.

Built in 1955 on the slopes of the active Mount Asama volcano, Karuizawa was a relatively quiet player of the burgeoning Japanese whisky industry through the boom years. It is notable for being part of the Ocean whisky brand.

With four small stills, Karuizawa imported the legendary Golden Promise barley from Scotland and often matured whisky in sherry casks – which proved to be invaluable over long maturations.

Distilling ceased in 2000, the distillery was officially closed in 2011 when the UK-based Number One Drinks Company purchased all the remaining stocks. It’s from these stocks that the legend of Karuizawa has formed, through a number of single malt and single cask expressions that have showcased some remarkable flavours.

As recently as 2010 it wouldn’t have been an unusual sight for whisky fans to be enjoying a Karuizawa amongst friends, but as word of the quality quickly spread the stocks seemed to vanish overnight. Now they are exhausted.

The mythical nature of the distillery has seen it become the most highly sought after distillery at auctions, values surpassing even the Scottish heavyweights like Macallan and Port Ellen.

In August 2015 a bottle of Karuizawa broke the record for the most expensive 700ml bottle of whisky ever sold at auction – a 1960 vintage went for HK$918,750, a touch over AUD$150,000.

After a lengthy search, The Oak Barrel – one of Sydney’s oldest bottle shops and home to the renowned annual Sydney Whisky Fair – is delighted to be able to offer a range of Karuizawa expressions for sale.

We will likely never see nine separate Karuizawa expressions on the shelf together again and we’ve only one bottle of each to sell.  

Scott Fitzsimons