Rare Japanese Whisky Set Could Fetch Over $750,000 At Auction - The Whiskey Wash

Rare Japanese Whisky Set Could Fetch Over $750,000 At Auction

By Nino Marchetti / July 30, 2019

Amongst the unicorns of the Japanese whisky world one of the most coveted is a complete bottle set from what’s known as Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series. Only a handful of these exist in the world and, at the last time one came up at auction in 2015, it fetched around $485,000. Now another set is ready to come to auction in August, and it too could command a hefty final sale price by the time the gavel falls.

The Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series heralds from the Hanyu distillery, which was founded in 1941 by Isouji Akuto, a 19th generation descendant of a long line of sake brewers to produce Scotch-style malt whisky. The distillery stopping making whisky in 2000, it is said, but not before “Ichiro Akuto, grandson of Isouji, stepped in to secure the 400 premium whisky casks left from the distillery.” He put these together into a 54 bottle set, with each bottle representing each of the playing cards in a full pack. Each ‘card’ was bottled from a single cask of these whiskies ranging in production years from 1985 to 2014, and was released between 2005 and 2014.

Bonhams is the auction house in question putting this complete set on the auction block come August 16th in Hong Kong as part of its “Fine & Rare Wine and Whisky” auction. In 2015 it was the first such operation to sell a complete set, which at the time set the world record for the most expensive Japanese whisky collection at HK$3,797,500 (around $485,000 USD) – a record it still holds to date and anticipates to surpass with the current lot.

Hanyu Ichiro's Full Card Series

Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series (image via Bonhams)

“Four years since the Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series set the world auction record at Bonhams,” said Daniel Lam, Bonhams’ Director of Wine & Spirits, Asia, in a prepared statement, “the current market demand is at its strongest for Japanese Whisky. It is believed that no more than four sets of Full Card Series 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.”

This current set is carrying an estimate pre-auction of HK$4,500,000 – 6,000,000 (around $575,000 – 767,000 USD). It is being joined at the whisky high end of this auction with other bottlings such as various expressions from the Chichibu Distillery, a 50 year old Highland Park and a 72 year old The Macallan.