Unappreciated when it first opened in the 1950s, and even as its first single malts were released in 1976, the distillery eventually mothballed in 2001 as demand evaporated. Yet, that’s when appreciation for its Scottish malt style Japanese whisky began its ascent.
Its remaining stock of casks got bought up by forward-thinking independent bottlers and private collectors, including The Whisky Exchange, Number One Drinks, La Maison du Whisky, and perhaps most importantly, Eric Huang, a well-known figure in the whisky world.
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Huang has been credited with elevating the status of Karuizawa Distillery whisky to what it is today, and is the owner of the vast majority of the now-defunct producer’s remaining stock.
Keeping their precious supply of Karuizawa whisky with great care, they released them in small batches as the market gained greater appreciation for the un-replenishable, ever-dwindling reserve.
Now, a 1970 vintage of Karuizawa whisky is being made available via BlockBar, the world’s first direct-to-consumer NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace, which provides transparency, authenticity, quality assurance, and storage for collectors.
The 50-year-old bottling, the first-ever Karuizawa whisky NFT, and the first Japanese whisky to be released on BlockBar’s marketplace, is one of only 211 bottles to have come from a single sherry cask bottled in 2020.
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The BlockBar listing, named The Karuizawa ‘The Last Masterpiece 1970’, is also a Special Edition bottling featuring a bespoke label artwork designed by Souun Takeda, one of Japan’s most esteemed calligraphers, and is the only one of its kind.