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The Budō Collection – Karuizawa 35 Year Old will go on sale publicly on Thursday 19th November, but we won’t make you wait till then. We’re offering priority access to HTSI readers to bypass the waitlist and immediately secure one of these spectacular Japanese whisky sets for their own collection.

Only 43 sets have been created; Don’t miss your opportunity to own a piece of Japanese whisky history.

In case you’ve missed it, watch the unveiling video or scroll down for more information about this once in a lifetime collection.

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Celebrate Japanese Excellence In Sport,
Art & Whisky

The start of a new decade is always a time for reflection. It’s a time to look back at the innovators, visionaries and the shared history that have gotten us to where we are today. As the decade begins with the world’s best athletes competing in Japan, it was a fitting time to look back at the origins and underlying philosophy that have formed the foundation of Japanese sport.

There are many parallels between Japanese sport, art and whisky. In each practice there is the pursuit of excellence that is such an important part of Japanese culture.Afterall, the Japanese believe that “if something is worth doing; it’s worth doing it in the best way possible” — this philosophy persists across all aspects of Japanese life… Including the lives of athletes, artists and distillers.

Karuizawa Budo Collection

Introducing The Budō Collection

Capturing the spirit of three traditions at the heart of Japanese culture required a set of expressions that was unlike any that had come before. It was imperative that the collection showcase the legendary ethos of the trades in a manner that would encapsulate the heart of Japanese whisky history, artistic expression and sportsmanship, honoring and respecting each individually, while highlighting the way of life that makes them all tick at the same time. It is against this backdrop that we’re pleased to introduce The Budō Collection, an exclusive limited edition that is more than whisky – it’s a work of art.

Introducing The Budō Collection

Capturing the spirit of three traditions at the heart of Japanese culture required a set of expressions that was unlike any that had come before. It was imperative that the collection showcase the legendary ethos of the trades in a manner that would encapsulate the heart of Japanese whisky history, artistic expression and sportsmanship, honoring and respecting each individually, while highlighting the way of life that makes them all tick at the same time. It is against this backdrop that we’re pleased to introduce The Budō Collection, an exclusive limited edition that is more than whisky – it’s a work of art.

Introducing The Budō Collection

Capturing the spirit of three traditions at the heart of Japanese culture required a set of expressions that was unlike any that had come before. It was imperative that the collection showcase the legendary ethos of the trades in a manner that would encapsulate the heart of Japanese whisky history, artistic expression and sportsmanship, honoring and respecting each individually, while highlighting the way of life that makes them all tick at the same time. It is against this backdrop that we’re pleased to introduce The Budō Collection, an exclusive limited edition that is more than whisky – it’s a work of art.

Inspired By The Martial Way

Budō is a Japanese term to describe modern martial arts, and translates literally to ‘The Martial Way’. It is a compound of the root ‘bu’, which refers to war, and ‘dō’, which means ‘the path’, and refers to the lifestyle that accompanies the discipline. The first occurrences of the world Budō date back to the 16th century, when they were used to describe the lifestyle of the samurai.

The philosophy demonstrates how important lifestyle and internal discipline are to the Japanese people, giving attention to how you should develop yourself and your mind in order to perform better. The only enemy in modern budō is oneself. This mindset is evident in the craft of all the artists whose work has gone into this bottle: From the master distillers who have dedicated themselves to the produce of exceptional whisky; the street artists we enlisted to produce the artwork on these bottles; and the sportspeople who continue to practice the technique, and walk the path, of modern martial arts.

The Upper Echelon Of Single Malt

In order to breathe life into such an iconic collection, it was imperative to select a whisky that would turn heads. The spirit needed to showcase the superb craftsmanship of Japanese distillers that have put the industry on the map. In the mind of any enthusiast this left only one choice, a cask from the legendary Karuizawa Distillery. A cask of 1981 Karuizawa was selected for The Budō Collection and allowed to continue ageing in its sherry cask until it displayed the best possible character and array of notes imaginable. At 35 Years Old, the liquid was smooth, elegant and bursting with a wealth of incredible aromas and flavours, and so the cask was bottled in 2017 to retain these characteristics while waiting patiently for its worldwide debut.

Experience The Gold Standard

When it comes to whisky, this is one of the best of all time. Karuizawa is a whisky synonymous with quality, luxury and rarity. It’s considered the gold standard of Japanese Whisky and the whisky in these bottles is some of the best the distillery has ever produced. Just by looking at the deep color of the liquid, you can tell this is a premium spirit. The whisky was distilled in 1981, then aged for 35 years in a sherry cask, before being bottled in 2017 to await release at the turn of the decade. Should this liquid ever grace your lips, the flavor is an experience all its own. The whisky cannot be compared to any other; it will leave you speechless.

Immortalizing The Whisky Of Legends

Just like many master artists only appreciated after their death, Karuizawa did not rise to stardom until after the stills were stopped. It can be said that the distillery was ahead of its time in pioneering a spectacular sherried single malt during a time when premium spirits lacked the fervent following they enjoy today. By the time that single malts began rising to prominence, it was too late. Difficult financial conditions forced Karuizawa to close in 2000. All of the facilities were dismantled, but fortunately the remaining casks were saved to allow a grand finale for a distillery that played such an influential role in transforming the Japanese Whisky industry. The Budō Collection brings Karuizawa back to life with a stunning set that immortalizes the distillery’s prominent place in the history of whisky.

Beautiful Design Showcasing Japanese Culture

Quite simply… You’ve never seen a collection like this before.The Budō Collection is among the most visually impressive whisky designs of all time. The design process began by selecting a bottle shape that is broad shouldered and tapered, representing the strength of the sportspeople who practice modern martial arts. The relatively flat face of the bottle is a great canvas for the artists, who will be hand-painting every bottle. Each of the three beautiful hand painted bottles is accompanied by an elegant hand crafted wooden presentation stand that draws influence from the traditional outdoor Sumo Dohyo and Japanese roof structures, but with a modern twist. As you place each of the sports disciplines into the arena you’ll be stuck with a feeling of pride akin to that experienced by the athletes themselves. The combination of the unique Karuizawa bottles with the artistic display results in a masterpiece that deserves the utmost appreciation.

Individually Hand Painted Masterpieces

In order to get the true essence of Japanese culture and modern martial arts into this bottle, we took the bold step of collaborating with three of Japan’s most famous street artists, to create a set of hand painted bottles that are as gorgeous, unique and elegant on the outside as the liquid is rare on the inside. Each of these artists chose to showcase a different sport from the facet of “Gendai Budō”, or modern Japanese martial arts. It was with Gendai Budō that Japanese sport was born and the impact they have had on modern day Japanese athletes, artists and indeed whisky makers, are still apparent to this day. Gendai Budō revolves around Taimingu (timing), Nintai (patience), Seido (precision) and Chikara (strength), the same characteristics that are central to the craft, and the lives, of athletes, artists, and whisky distillers today.

Individually Hand Painted Masterpieces

In order to get the true essence of Japanese culture and modern martial arts into this bottle, we took the bold step of collaborating with three of Japan’s most famous street artists, to create a set of hand painted bottles that are as gorgeous, unique and elegant on the outside as the liquid is rare on the inside. Each of these artists chose to showcase a different sport from the facet of “Gendai Budō”, or modern Japanese martial arts. It was with Gendai Budō that Japanese sport was born and the impact they have had on modern day Japanese athletes, artists and indeed whisky makers, are still apparent to this day. Gendai Budō revolves around Taimingu (timing), Nintai (patience), Seido (precision) and Chikara (strength), the same characteristics that are central to the craft, and the lives, of athletes, artists, and whisky distillers today.

Bottle 01:
Kendo by FATE

FATE’s abstract depiction of Kendo brings together all of the key aspects of the martial art, from the equipment used to the lifestyle that the participants lead, to create a piece of art that is visually striking, powerful and elegant, much like the whisky inside. Close attention to the details in this piece pays rewards: From the abstract form, a Shinai (Kendo sword) reveals itself, as does the Men (armour) and the Tombo, meaning ‘Dragonfly’ in Japanese.

The dragonfly was known as the “victory insect” because it would quickly advance towards its target and efficiently kill a pest (e.g. mosquitos and horseflies) without hesitation or retreat. In Japanese legend, an emperor had a horsefly bite him on the arm while out hunting. Before the horsefly could bite him again, a dragonfly swooped down and ate the offending insect. The emperor was so impressed by the dragonfly that he named the region he was in “Akitsu-no” or “Dragonfly Plain”.

Bottle 01:
Kendo by FATE

FATE’s abstract depiction of Kendo brings together all of the key aspects of the martial art, from the equipment used to the lifestyle that the participants lead, to create a piece of art that is visually striking, powerful and elegant, much like the whisky inside. Close attention to the details in this piece pays rewards: From the abstract form, a Shinai (Kendo sword) reveals itself, as does the Men (armour) and the Tombo, meaning ‘Dragonfly’ in Japanese.

The dragonfly was known as the “victory insect” because it would quickly advance towards its target and efficiently kill a pest (e.g. mosquitos and horseflies) without hesitation or retreat. In Japanese legend, an emperor had a horsefly bite him on the arm while out hunting. Before the horsefly could bite him again, a dragonfly swooped down and ate the offending insect. The emperor was so impressed by the dragonfly that he named the region he was in “Akitsu-no” or “Dragonfly Plain”.

Bottle 01: Kendo by FATE

Bottle 02:
Sumo by PHIL

PHIL’s depiction of a Yokozuna, the highest rank in Sumo wrestling, portrays a proud, strong and intimidating wrestler participating in a traditional entering ceremony. The Yokozuna is flanked by the sun and the moon and sits in front of a Gunbai, or ‘Japanese war fan’. The art work is bold and powerful, much like Yokozuna themselves.

The top of the bottle is adorned with a Tsuna, a variation of the shimenawa (Enclosing Rope) used for ritual purification in the shinto religion. This is because the Yokozuna is seen as a living yorishiro (formally shintai), and as such is inhabited by a spirit – it is also believed that deities dwell in the rope around a Yokozuna’s waist.

Bottle 02:
Sumo by PHIL

PHIL’s depiction of a Yokozuna, the highest rank in Sumo wrestling, portrays a proud, strong and intimidating wrestler participating in a traditional entering ceremony. The Yokozuna is flanked by the sun and the moon and sits in front of a Gunbai, or ‘Japanese war fan’. The art work is bold and powerful, much like Yokozuna themselves.

The top of the bottle is adorned with a Tsuna, a variation of the shimenawa (Enclosing Rope) used for ritual purification in the shinto religion. This is because the Yokozuna is seen as a living yorishiro (formally shintai), and as such is inhabited by a spirit – it is also believed that deities dwell in the rope around a Yokozuna’s waist.

Bottle 02: Sumo by PHIL

Bottle 03:
Karate by TwoOne

TwoOne’s concept takes inspiration from Masutatsu Ōyama, the Karate master who founded Kyokushin Karate, widely considered to be the most influential style of full contact Karate. Masutastu is depicted in front of a yellow sun, holding a strong, elegant fighting stance.

The horizontal red brushstrokes represent the dynamic movement that all Karate practitioners must possess if they are to be successful. They must be quick, agile and balanced in order to outwit, outskill and finish their opponent.

Bottle 03:
Karate by TwoOne

TwoOne’s concept takes inspiration from Masutatsu Ōyama, the Karate master who founded Kyokushin Karate, widely considered to be the most influential style of full contact Karate. Masutastu is depicted in front of a yellow sun, holding a strong, elegant fighting stance.

The horizontal red brushstrokes represent the dynamic movement that all Karate practitioners must possess if they are to be successful. They must be quick, agile and balanced in order to outwit, outskill and finish their opponent.

Bottle 03: Karate by TwoOne

The Budō Collection

35 Year Old Single Cask Japanese Whisky

Translating to “The Martial Way”, Budō is the lifestyle that accompanies the practice of modern martial arts, demanding deep commitment and unwavering internal discipline from practitioners. This collection combines the very essence of Budō with elements of Japanese sport, culture, hand painted street art and some of the rarest whisky on the planet.

  • Distillery: Karuizawa
  • Year Distilled: 1981
  • Year Bottled: 2017
  • Age: 35 Years
  • Alcohol By Volume: 51.00%
  • Size: 70cl (3 bottles)
  • Cask Number: 7147

Available Now Exclusively For Readers Of The Financial Times How To Spend It. (Public Release on November 19th)

Reserve Now
Karuizawa Budo Collection
Karuizawa Budo Collection

The Budō Collection

35 Year Old Single Cask Japanese Whisky

Translating to “The Martial Way”, Budō is the lifestyle that accompanies the practice of modern martial arts, demanding deep commitment and unwavering internal discipline from practitioners. This collection combines the very essence of Budō with elements of Japanese sport, culture, hand painted street art and some of the rarest whisky on the planet.

  • Distillery: Karuizawa
  • Year Distilled: 1981
  • Year Bottled: 2017
  • Age: 35 Years
  • Alcohol By Volume: 51.00%
  • Size: 70cl (3 bottles)
  • Cask Number: 7147

Available now exclusively for Financial Times How To Spend It Readers. (Goes on sale to general public on November 19th)

Reserve Now

Available Now
Exclusively For Financial Times How To Spend It Readers

The Karuizawa Budō Collection will be offered for sale publicly starting on November 19th at 3pm GMT and will begin shipping immediately. With production limited to just 43 sets and the unprecedented demand for this iconic whisky, the bottles are expected to sell out quickly. As a valued Financial Times How To Spend It Reader you can skip the waitlist and reserve your collection immediately.

Reserve Now

Available Now
Exclusively For Financial Times How To Spend It Readers

The Karuizawa Budō Collection will be offered for sale publicly starting on November 19th at 3pm GMT and will begin shipping immediately. With production limited to just 43 sets and the unprecedented demand for this iconic whisky, the bottles are expected to sell out quickly. As a valued Financial Times How To Spend It Reader you can skip the waitlist and reserve your collection immediately.

Reserve Now
Karuizawa Budo Collection