The crown jewel of Japanese rare whisky collection, the whole set of Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series, will go under hammer at auction house Bonhams’ upcoming Whisky and Wine auction on August 16 in Hong Kong, and is likely to smash previous world record.
The whole set carrying an estimate of HK$4,500,000 – 6,000,000 comprises 54 bottles representing each of the playing card in a full pack. The lot on offer is believed to be one of the four full sets left in the world, according to Bonhams’ director of Wine & Spirits in Asia, Daniel Lam.
Each ‘card’ was bottled from a single cask of premium whisky ranging in production years from 1985 to 2014 from the now closed distillery of Hanyu.
In 2015, Bonhams was the first auction house to sell the 54-bottle Full Card series, which set the world record for the most expensive Japanese whisky collection at HK$3,797,500. The set consists of 13 diamonds, hearts, spades, clubs and two jokers.
In 2017, Sotheby’s Hong Kong offered a 58-bottle Full Card series, a different edition compared with the 54-bottle version. It fetched HK$3.5 million but failed to break Bonhams’ record.
With the new Card Series on offer on August 16, Bonhams expects it to smash its previous world record set in 2015, given its rarity and blistering market demand for Japanese whisky.
“Four years since the Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series set the world auction record at Bonhams, the current market demand is at its strongest for Japanese Whisky,” Lam commented.
Speaking to Vino-joy.com, he added last year much of the whisky collectors’ interest was on Scottish whisky like Macallan, this year Japanese whisky is coming back with vengeance. Cult classics such as Karuizawa, Chichibu and Hanyu are particularly sought-after among collectors.
According to Lam, the Card Series on offer is even rarer because it is believed no more than four sets exist in the world. “Over the years, moreover, many bottles have either been consumed or strictly kept in private, making it harder than ever to assemble a complete – and with such trusted provenance – series.”
One of the full sets was bought by Aaron Chan, owner of Club Qing in Hong Kong, and was put on full display at his wine and whisky bar.
Founded in 1941 by Isouji Akuto, a 19th generation descendant of a long line of sake brewers to produce Scotch-style malt whisky, the Hanyu distillery ceased production in 2000.
But not before 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.