Hong Kong auction of rare Japanese whiskies and Scotch

54-bottle Card Series from the now-closed Hanyu distillery in Japan is the star lot at Bonhams sale, and could sell for HK$2.4 million

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015, 2:13pm

History will be made in Hong Kong on Friday when a full set of 54 bottles of Hanyu Ichiro's Card Series of whiskies is sold at auction. The rare lot of spirits, from a distillery that's now closed, is expected to sell for between HK$1.8 million and HK$2.4 million.

It is the highlight among more than 380 lots for sale by Bonhams Hong Kong. In addition to the Card Series, highlights include other lots from Hanyu, and  sought-after whiskies from another now-closed Japanese distillery, Karuizawa, and from Scotch distilleries Macallan, Balvenie and Glenfiddich. The auction will be held on August 28 at the Bonhams sale room in One Pacific Place, Admiralty.

Founded by the Akuto family, the Hanyu distillery has been brewing sake since 1626. It started making single malt whisky when the 19th generation of the family, Isouji Akuto, set up a distillery in Hanyu in 1941. In 2000, the distillery  closed, but Isouji’s grandson Ichiro Akuto, determined to see the Hanyu name live on, rescued 400 casks from the distillery; the vintages range from 1985 to 2000. The 54 best single-cask barrels were bottled and sold as the Ichiro 'Playing Card' series, with the first expression released in 2005, and the last – the Joker – in 2014.

Since it was first launched, the series has been sought after by whisky lovers; because of its rarity, however, bottles rarely come up for auction. Only three collectors in the world are said to be in possession of the complete series.

“In just a few years, whisky has become the choice of spirit for many buyers in the region – a development that we hadn’t anticipated," said Daniel Lam, wine and whisky specialist at Bonhams Hong Kong. "As the number of whisky collectors in the region increases, we believe that whiskies of tip-top quality, or those which have long ceased production, are in shortage.

"Under such circumstances, auction houses are a reliable source for collectors to get their hands on precious drams at reasonable prices. I hope that whisky lovers and collectors wouldn’t miss the range of rare and precious whiskies on offer at our upcoming auction,”  

For more details visit http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/22888/