$45,000 Karuizawa Budō Collection Features Hand-Painted Street Art Inspired by Japanese Martial Arts

Karuizawa Budō Collection

Dekanta has unveiled the Karuizawa Budō Collection, a trio of private label bottlings of rare Karuizawa 35 Year Old (1981 – 2017) Whisky, featuring hand-painted street art inspired by Japanese modern martial arts. The new collection from the specialist retailer of rare and fine Japanese Whisky will cost $45,000 USD.

Each of the bottles in The Budō Collection – Karuizawa 35 Year Old (1981 – 2017) #7147 Japanese Single Cask Whisky features art from one of three Japanese street artists, individually hand-painted by the original artists, and inspired by one of three modern Japanese martial arts: Kendo, Karate and Sumo. Budō is a Japanese term to describe martial arts, and translates literally to “The Martial Way.” The name was chosen to celebrate the dedication to craft which is shared by martial arts practitioners, street artists and master distillers alike.

The new release is likely to be among the very final casks from Karuizawa to be bottled. Closed since 2000, Karuizawa distillery has enjoyed increased interest in its Whiskies as it has become more scarce. As global interest in Japanese whisky has grown in recent years, demand for stock from the closed Karuizawa distillery has increased dramatically, along with the price of the remaining bottles, which have reached prices in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars on the secondary market.

Recent auction sales provide further indication that the appetite for Karuizawa whisky is strong. In March 2020, a bottle of Karuizawa 52 Year Old (1960) Zodiac Rat Cask #5627 sold for 435,273 USD at Sotheby’s London, making it the most expensive bottle of Japanese whisky ever sold at auction–until Yamazaki 55 Year Old smashed the record, selling for $795,000. 

“From what we’ve seen in the past eight years, and even this year under the Covid lockdown, it’s clear people are still collecting, buying and drinking Japanese whisky,” said Daniel Lam, Wine & Spirits Specialist at Bonhams Hong Kong. “We are also seeing new groups of people collecting Japanese whisky; it’s becoming a trend. The market is going to be very healthy in the future.

Each bottle in the collection was hand-painted and signed by one of three Japanese street artists: FATE and PHIL (Both of SCA-Crew, a group of prominent street artists who work between Tokyo and Kanagawa) and Yokohama-born contemporary artist TWOONE, who is recognised globally for his large-scale mural works. “Our stand takes influence from traditional outdoor Sumo Dohyō and traditional Japanese roof structures, but with a modern twist,” said Stu Cox, Head of Design at dekantā. “We thought it was fitting to place these spectacular bottles, filled with liquid from the iconic Karuizawa distillery, at the centre of our arena; the place where the culmination of years of training and dedication are put to the test under the eyes of the attentive audience.”

“This collection has been many years in the making, intended to celebrate the craft of Japanese modern martial arts, and draw parallels between the discipline of their practice and that of artists and master distillers in Japan,” said Makiyo Masa, Founder and Director of dekantā. “With that in mind, the collection has gained new significance in light of a year in which so many sporting, art and cultural events have sadly been cancelled.”

The Karuizawa Budō Collection is limited to just 128 bottles, comprising 43 three-bottle sets, and are exclusively available on dekanta.com. Bottles will go up for sale on Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 10am ET.