Hanyu Distillery, now a closed whisky distillery, was one of the most renowned distilleries in Japan just like the Karuizawa Distillery. Even though the Hanyu Distillery was for whisky production, this family business went further back in Japanese history. In 1626, the Akuto Family were sake makers in Chichibu. But that changed when, in 1941, the family established a business in Hanyu and began producing japanese whisky. During the time of its opening, Hanyu Distillery created the Ichiro’s Malt Card Series line, but this popular distillery closed down in 2000. However, there was still stock left behind, which an heir of the Akuto Family inherited, and that’s why the Hanyu legend continues living today.
Ichiro Akuto, an heir to the original founder, thankfully rescued the remainder of their aging stocks. In 2005, Ichiro created the Ichiro’s Malt Card Series, a collection of bottlings from Hanyu old stocks. Ichiro’s Malt Card Series is a collection of single cask releases, all of which feature a distinguished label depicting a unique playing card motif. Just like a deck of playing cards, this unique collection features 54 bottles that represent each card in a deck. Each vintage bottle has its own original card label, but not only that – they each have their own one-of-a-kind, luscious flavors that make them even more irresistible.
In August 2019 the full collection of Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card series, a total of 54 bottles, was sold to a female Asian collector for HK$7.19m (US$917,000) at Bonhams Hong Kong, setting a new world auction record for a Japanese whisky collection. There are mainly two reasons why this series is so highly sought after. First, Hanyu distillery which produced the series is no longer in production as it shut down in 2000 after the Japanese recession. Second, it is simply very difficult to collect all 54 bottles in the series. Today it is almost impossible to get a complete collection of Hanyu Ichiro’s Cards Series and if you now have the opportunity to buy it on the secondary market or if it should ever appear at auction, the price is probably well over 1 million US dollar.