Another record has been broken in the history of whisky auctions. 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. The prized lot nearly doubled the previous auction record, also set by Bonhams Hong Kong in 2015.
The full collection of Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card series set a new world auction record
Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card series is named after a full deck of cards
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.
Released between 2005 to 2014, all 54 bottles are named after the four suits in a stack of playing cards - Hearts, Spades, Clubs and Diamonds, as well as two Jokers. After the distillery ceased production in 2000, only 400 casks of whisky were left, making each bottle they produce even more rare and valuable.
All 54 bottles are stored in 7 cabinets
Every bottle was distilled and bottled in different years, thus the difference in taste and texture. For the story of how Ichiro Akuto, grandson of Hanyu distillery's founder, secured the 400 premium whisky casks left from the distillery, you can read Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series Set to Fetch HK$4.5m, New Record for Most Expensive Japanese Whisky Collection.
A complete set of Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card series now resides in Club Qing, a whisky bar in Central, Hong Kong
When the series was first released, the selling price was around ¥4,600 to 36,000 (US$43 to 338). However, as the series is so rare, second-hand bottles are much dearer and it takes a lot of effort to collect a whole set. Today, only 5 or 6 people in the world own the whole series, one of which comes from Hong Kong. A complete set currently resides in Club Qing, a whisky bar in Central, Hong Kong.
A set of Ichiro’s card bottles that form a straight flush ranking (clubs Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) sold for HK$159,250 after premium in 2014
Although challenging, many people aim to collect the whole series by acquiring 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.
In 2015, a Full Card series was offered at Bonhams and sold for a record-setting HK$3,797,500. The price that the series fetched this time is almost double the previous record.
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
Price realised: HK$7,192,000