Karuizawa whisky to be revived at new Japanese distillery

Karuizawa whisky to be revived at new Japanese distillery

Karuizawa Whisky Co. and retailer dekantā, which have obtained the rights to use the Karuizawa name, will also offer private cask sales

News | 20 Dec 2022 | By Bethany Brown

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Two Japanese companies are joining forces to revive the Karuizawa name in whisky with the opening of a brand-new distillery, plus private cask sales and independent bottlings.

The newly formed Karuizawa Whisky Co. and Japanese spirits specialist dekantā have signed a 10-year partnership to bring the legendary whisky brand back to life – with permission granted to use the Karuizawa name on their spirits.

At the heart of the partnership is a new Karuizawa Distillery – in the mountain resort from which the original distillery took its name – which was built by Karuizawa Whisky Co. and started production in December 2022. The new facility will only produce sherry cask-matured whisky (a nod the original distillery), filling 250 casks each year, and does not plan to bottle any spirit under 10 years old. All casks will be stored at the distillery and bottling will take place on-site.

Inside the new Karuizawa Distillery

It follows an announcement in late 2021 from another new company, Karuizawa Distillers Inc., that it would be opening a new whisky distillery at Komoro to "honour the legacy" of Karuizawa.

Founded in 1955, Karuizawa gained an enviable cache among whisky aficionados for its high-quality small-batch releases. After the distillery was mothballed in 2000 and eventually closed in 2011, this reputation hit stratospheric proportions, and original Karuizawa liquid is now among the most rare and sought-after in the whisky world. Workers from the original Karuizawa distillery have been involved in the setting up the new facility, enabling some of the brand's founding principles to be carried through to the new liquids.

Since 2018 dekantā has produced five collections of original Karuizawa whisky, including The Budō Collection – Karuizawa 35 Years Old (1981–2017) #7147 single cask whisky, which retailed at US$45,000 for a three-bottle set.

Alongside producing its own spirits, the new distillery will offer private cask sales – a phenomenon which, while gaining popularity in countries such as Scotland and the USA, is still uncommon in the Japanese whisky market. As part of the partnership, dekantā will be responsible for facilitating private cask sales alongside bottling collaborations.

The exterior of the new Karuizawa Distillery

Makiyo Masa, dekantā founder, said: “Japanese whisky fans like myself, who have held in reverence the remaining scarce liquid from Karuizawa, will soon get to taste what we thought was no longer possible. Karuizawa’s whisky and legacy are famous around the world and I’m delighted that dekantā is the pioneering brand to make Japanese whisky lover’s dreams come true.”

Owner of the new distillery Shigeru Totsuka added: “We are very proud to have struck this partnership and look forward to bringing top-quality Karuizawa whisky to dekanta’s clients for years to come.”

Visit dekanta.com to find out more.
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