Hanyu Ichiro's Malt Card Colour Joker

A landmark bottling for Japanese whisky. This release is a vatting of whisky from the legendary Hanyu distillery, utilising vintages from 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991 and 2000. Cask types used include bourbon, Madeira, chibidaru, hogshead, cognac, puncheon, and sherry butt.

This bottling is the final edition in the Ichiro's Card Series, 54 different releases utilising whisky from the now closed Hanyu distillery. The project came about in 2005 when a graphic designer called Takeshi Abe met Ichiro Akuto. Akuto had just saved the remaining stocks of Hanyu, a distillery his grandfather helped operate, from becoming reprocessed into shochu. The two discussed how a consumer orders a bottle at a bar and what sort of labels could be designed that were unique and interesting but also approachable. And so, with the release of the King Of Diamonds in 2005, the Ichiro's Card Series was born.

Over the following decade Akuto and Abe would release 54 editions, representing a full deck of cards along with two editions of the joker card, one in colour and the other in black & white. These releases saw the remaining Hanyu stocks vatted, finished, additionally matured, and generally revived. Cask types included everything from cognac to mizunara, madeira and port as well as bourbon and virgin oak.

This lot is the colour joker and the final edition in the playing card series. It was a personal favourite of Ichiro Akuto himself. Released in 2014 with 3690 bottles produced, the colour Joker incorporated whisky aged between 14 and 29 years of age.

Please closely examine the images provided in this lot prior to placing a bid. High resolution images are provided when viewing from a computer. All lots being sold are second hand in nature and all condition defects are not specifically listed in the lot description. Lots will be sold as seen in the images provided on each lot.
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  • Whisky Type:
    Single Malt
  • Bottles Produced:
    2525 of 3690
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The history of Hanyu distillery begins in 1941 when the company Toa Shuzo established a liquor production plant in the village of Hanyu as an extension to their sake business. The site initially produced shochu and sake, with any distilled liquors being intended for industrial products and baking ingredients. In the 1970s Tao Shuzo began releasing blended whisky expressions under the Golden Horse brand, utilising malt whisky imported primarily from Aberlour and producing grain whisky in house. These blends were typically less than 4 years in age, with the more premium offerings containing a higher proportion of imported Scottish malt. In 1980, amid the Japanese whisky boom, Tao Shuzo decided to move into malt whisky production and commissioned a pair of pot stills from Miyake, beginning production in 1983. As the company imported its Scottish whisky in casks, they chose to fill their Hanyu newmake into the recently dumped casks. Roughly 80% of Hanyu’s production was in refill hogsheads, with the other 20% being virgin oak.  
With a tax reform and a decline in whisky consumption in the later 1980s, suddenly Scotch whisky became incredibly cheap and domestically produced spirits were seen of poor quality and high price. In 1991 Hanyu’s stills would be switched off. In 1996, after working for Suntory for some time, Ichiro Akuto joined Tao Shuzo to help revive the company. He reinvented Hanyu as a single malt whisky with the introduction of Golden Horse Chichibu 8 year old, a well received release that proved there was demand for single malts in Japan. The stills were fired up again in late 1999 and into early 2000, before once again being switched off. In 2004 Tao Shuzo was sold to a shochu producer amid financial difficulties,with the new owner deeming whisky not a part of its future operations. Akuto swooped in and saved the stock, purchasing the remaining 400 casks and going on to establish his own distillery in Chichibu in 2007.  

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