Karuizawa – eight legendary Japanese whiskies

Last month a bottle of 52-year-old Karuizawa became the world’s most expensive Japanese whisky ever sold at auction. Here we take a look at eight bottles from the legendary distillery that are (slightly) more affordable

Words by Club Oenologique staff


A bottle of Karuizawa 52 Year Old Cask #5627 Zodiac Rat 1960 fetched £363,000 (US$435,273) at Sotheby’s in London in early March this year – the highest price ever achieved by a bottle from the closed Japanese distillery.

One of only 41 bottles produced and identified by a netsuke or wooden carving taken from the cask in which it matured, it is the oldest bottling from Karuizawa. It was sold to an Asian private collector.

While some Karuizawa bottles are treated as precious artefacts, many – though expensive – are readily available from specialist retailers.


Last year, in Club Oenologique Issue 3, Richard Woodard looked into the extraordinary history of Karuizawa, and Dominic Roskrow recommended eight examples of this rarest of whiskies.