Noh Whisky

Noh Whisky

Unique series of the highest quality – from Karuizawa’s distillery.

Karuizawa distillery (1956 – 2011) was one of the smallest Japanese whisky distilleries. Despite its size, however, Karuizawa was an important player in the whisky market, both in Japan and worldwide. In 1976, they released the first 100% malt whisky produced in Japan. What is more, the distillery got multiple awards during IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) and International Spirits Challenge. For their taste, quality and incredibly small stock, Katuizawa’s whiskies are some of the most sought-after spirits in the world.

What is particularly interesting about Karuizawa distillery is its production process. Sources say that they were very strict about ageing in sherry barrels and used water from the Asama Mountains to give the spirits unique freshness. The storage was also covered with ivy plants to maintain the ideal temperature and humidity.

One of the biggest and most popular collections of Karuizawa distillery is the Noh Whisky series. Sold for thousands of dollars per bottle, it consists of a wide range of mostly single cask editions that draw in connoisseurs and collectors from around the world.

Each bottle is decorated with a traditional Japanese Noh Performer mask and tells its own unique story. The Noh Whisky series bottles are hard to find on their own, so it is very uncommon to see them all for sale together.

The Noh Whisky series consists of 26 different editions, the oldest (Cask #1842) being over 40 years old and the youngest (Cask # #6066) – 10.

Noh Whisky cask#1842 Hannya

Noh Whisky Karuizawa 1971 cask#1842 Hannya

This image features the mask of the Noh character, Hannya, a sorrowful female serpent-demon.

  • Category: Japanese whisky
  • Distillery: Karuizawa
  • Distilled: 1971
  • Bottled: 2013
  • Age: 41 years
  • Cask type: Bourbon
  • Cask number: #1842
  • Number of bottles: 82
  • Strength: 63,7%
  • Size: 700ml

Colour: Deep Amber

Aroma: Concentrated and complex, with some pronounced dried fruit, sweet aromas.

Taste: Deep and heavy, full of burnt wood, pipe, and tobacco tastes. Allowed to breathe, it releases fresh, fruity notes.

Noh Whisky Karuizawa 1980 cask#7614 Shunkan

Noh Whisky Karuizawa 1980 cask#7614 Shunkan

This image features the mask of the Noh character, Shunkan, a priest exiled after being betrayed and exposed as plotting against the government.

  • Category: Japanese whisky
  • Distillery: Karuizawa
  • Distilled: 1980
  • Bottled: 2012
  • Age: 32 years
  • Cask type: Sherry Butt
  • Cask number: #7614
  • Number of bottles: 102
  • Strength: 50,4 %
  • Size: 700ml

Colour: Deep Molasses

Aroma: Smokey and dark. Very pronounced burnt wood and petrol notes.

Taste: Musty and almost nutty. Complex and unique, much lighter than the #1842 Cask Noh Whisky. The lower strength of the #7614 Cask releases a smoothness that perfectly coats the mouth.

Noh Whisky Karuizawa 1980 cask#3565 Ko-Jo

Noh Whisky Karuizawa 1980 cask#3565 Ko-Jo

This label features the mask of the Noh character, Ko-Jo, a god that takes the form of an old man.

  • Category: Japanese whisky
  • Distillery: Karuizawa
  • Distilled: 1980
  • Bottled: 2012
  • Age: 32 years
  • Cask type: Sherry Butt
  • Cask number: #3565
  • Number of bottles: 335
  • Strength: 59,2 %
  • Size: 700ml
  • Colour: Warm Gold

Aroma: Unforgettable and intense. First, it releases notes of cooked vegetables, leather, gas and old wood, then nutmeg, tobacco, chocolate, coffee and raisins.

Taste: Chocolate, oak, and strong peat. Allowed to breathe, it releases sherry-like, sweeter and creamier notes, similar to toffee, nutmeg and cooked fruit. #3565 serves a warm and long finish with woody, mouth-drying, slightly herbal notes.

Noh Whisky cask#4676

Noh Whisky Karuizawa 1981 cask#4676 Namanari

This label features a mask of the Noh character, Namanari, a grudgeful woman spurned by her husband’s leaving.

  • Category: Japanese whisky
  • Distillery: Karuizawa
  • Distilled: 1981
  • Bottled: 2012
  • Age: 31 years
  • Cask type: Sherry Cask
  • Cask number: #4676
  • Number of bottles: 186
  • Strength: 58,6 %
  • Size: 700ml

Colour: Burnt Carmel.

Aroma: Rich and complex. Full of cedarwood, butter fudge and dried fruit notes. Allowed to breathe, it releases tree sap, tobacco and chocolate-covered berries.

Taste: Intense wood-like flavours with notes of cough syrups, vanilla and forest berries. Dusty, ashy and strong finish releases a very pronounced tobacco aroma.

Noh Whisky cask#155

Noh Whisky Karuizawa 1981 cask#155 Asakura-jō

This label features the mask of the Noh character, Asakura-jō, an elderly common man.

  • Category: Japanese whisky
  • Distillery: Karuizawa
  • Distilled: 1981
  • Bottled: 2013
  • Age: 31 years
  • Cask type: Sherry Butt
  • Cask number: #155
  • Number of bottles: 595
  • Strength: 56 %
  • Size: 700ml

Colour: Warm Walnut.

Aroma: Pretty classic for Karuizawa but excellent and intense. Full of new wood, wet pipe, tobacco, caramel, oak and cacao. Slightly smokey tones with the addition of bittery-sour, cherry notes.

Taste: Powerful, and balanced. Punchy, leathery, woody notes with varnish. Good sweetness, similar to dried plums and cooked citrus, jam, and autumnal spices. Serves a very long, woody but not mouth-drying finish.

Check out our current Noh Whisky stock below: