The collectibility of Japanese whisky has been taken to new heights this summer with the release of a stunning set from the fabled ghost distillery of Karuizawa. The Legend of Asama series offers two bottles of prized Karuizawa 1981, taken from each of the last two remaining casks, #4059 and #6183.
Karuizawa closed its doors in 2001 and was razed to the ground as recently as 2016. It is only in the most recent of times that its remaining stock has become so heavily sought-after. The remaining 364 casks were sold off in 2011 and have gradually been bottled and sent to auction. Now, just two remain. Both owned by the renowned collector Mahesh Patel, the two casks were distilled at Karuizawa in 1981 and aged there for 20 years before being moved to Chichibu Distillery and bottled in 2017.
The Legend of Asama represents the final drops of that bottling. Just 30 sets exist and even they are being stretched out over the course of three years. True to its nature, the price for such an exclusive whisky is only available upon application but you can be sure that it sits comfortably in the six-figure range. Only the richest and most enthusiastic of whisky collectors need apply.
For such an exceptional release, Patel sought the world-renowned expertise of Glencairn Crystal to create bespoke decanters worthy of housing such a rare liquid. The crystal decanters are decorated with Noh masks and are joined by two handmade empty decanters with gold caps. These supplementary decanters are uniquely decorated with detailed engravings of the original labels and are works of art in their own right. Purchasers will also receive two specially created Glencairn cut crystal glasses and a Glencairn water-jug, of exclusive design.
Patel said: “I am extremely excited to finally be releasing this very special whisky to the world. I wanted to ensure that when these exceptional whiskies were released, they were presented in a beautiful way that could tell the story of their turbulent past and be celebrated by the person lucky enough to purchase them. This vision, along with Glencairn Crystal’s creativity and innovation has brought a part of this spectacular distillery back to life.”
Each decanter is placed in a hand-crafted lunawood tube, which has two sections fastened with a screw-thread hand-cut into the wood. Their design pays tribute to Mount Asama, where the Karuizawa Distillery was located and the recent Tokyo Olympic Games were held. The set is completed by a signed and numbered book written by preeminent whisky writer Charles MacLean on the story behind The Legend of Asama and the tasting notes.