Cover Photo: BlockBar

This 1970 vintage of Karuizawa whisky is one of only 211 bottles to have come from a single sherry cask bottled in 2020

When it comes to rare Japanese whiskies, no other name has attained more cult status than Karuizawa Distillery.

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.

Says Huang: “Every bottle of Karuizawa whisky is really precious because the Karuizawa Distillery is closed. Once a bottle has been purchased, the brand gets a step closer to its final conclusion and therefore we must be very careful about who we partner with.”

Regarding the move to offer a bottle as an NFT, he adds: “The Karuizawa brand is incredibly unique and we see huge potential for dropping an NFT which includes guaranteeing authenticity for the bottle owner.”

For those still apprehensive about the world of NFTs, take heart that the physical bottle of The Karuizawa ‘The Last Masterpiece 1970’, like all of BlockBar’s inventory, is being stored in a secure facility in Singapore with 24/7 security, motion sensors, and temperature control.

The owner of the NFT can choose to redeem the physical product by burning the NFT, resell it through BlockBar, or even gift the NFT via the platform.

The Karuizawa ‘The Last Masterpiece 1970’ is being auctioned off on BlockBar.

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