Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series Set to Fetch HK$4.5m, New Record for Most Expensive Japanese Whisky Collection

Japanese whisky has seen record-breaking sales one after another in the past few years. Here comes another rare opportunity to acquire a coveted and rarest collection of Japanese whisky at Bonhams’ upcoming sale in Hong Kong. The celebrated collection of Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card series will go up for auction for HK$4.5m-6m and it is expected to set a new world record for the most expensive Japanese whisky collection.

A total of 54 bottles in the Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card series

A Full Card series was sold for a record-setting price of HK$3.79m in 2015

The collection comprises 54 bottles representing each of the playing card in a full pack. Each ‘card’ was bottled from a single cask of premium whisky ranging in production years from 1985 to 2014 from the acclaimed closed distillery of Hanyu. In 2015, a Full Card series was offered at Bonhams and sold for a record-setting HK$3,797,500.

A complete set of Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card series now resides in Club Qing, a whisky bar in Central, Hong Kong

It is believed that no more than four sets of Full Card series exist in the world. Many bottles have either been consumed or strictly kept in private over the years. One set currently resides in a Hong Kong whisky bar called Club Qing. Japanese whisky aficionados who would like to take a look can pay a visit to the bar.

Ichirō Akuto

One of the reasons why this series is so highly sought after in the market is that the Hanyu distillery is no longer in production as it shut down in 2000 after the Japanese recession. The Hanyu distillery was founded in 1941 by Isouji Akuto, a 19th generation descendant of a long line of sake brewers to produce Scotch-style malt whisky. Before the distillery ceased production in 2000, Ichiro Akuto, grandson of Isouji, stepped in to secure the 400 premium whisky casks left from the distillery. An avid whisky lover like his grandfather, Ichiro personally selected the prized amber liquid to be bottled for each ‘card’ released between 2005 and 2014, ensuring that the Hanyu legend lives on. Ichiro Akuto founded Chichibu distillery in 2004 and started producing its famous whiskies in 2008.


A set of five Ichiro’s card bottles (clubs Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) were offered at Bonhams Hong Kong in 2014

Due to its rarity, it is almost impossible to get a full set of the Ichiro’s card series. These collectible Japanese whisky bottles are scattered around the world. Some collectors arrange their collection according to the poker hand rankings such as straight, flush, full house, straight flush. For example, a set of Ichiro’s card bottles that form a straight flush ranking (clubs Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) were offered at Bonhams Hong Kong in 2014 and sold for HK$159,250 after premium.

Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt Full Cards Series

Auction house: Bonhams Hong Kong
Sale: Fine & Rare Wine and Whisky
Sale date: 16 August 2019
Estimate: HK$4,500,000 - 6,000,000