New world record set for Japanese whisky

A complete set of Hanyu Ichiro’s ‘Card Series’ has been sold by Bonhams in Hong Kong for HK$7.1 million (US$917,000) – nearly double the previous record.

Photo credit: Bonhams

The 54 bottle collection was a very rare complete set of the Card Series, which are among the most famous of Japan’s whiskies, each single malt whisky being bottled from a single cask between 1985 and 2014 (with the distillery having been closed since 2000 and bottlings since then being undertaken by the founder’s grandson, Ichiro Akuto).

Only four complete sets are believed to exist anywhere in the world, the last of which was sold by Bonhams in 2015 for a – then – record of HK$3.7m.

The latest sale represents a new world record not just for the set but for any Japanese whisky so far sold at auction.

The most expensive single bottle of Japanese whisky ever sold was a 50 year old Yamazaki by Bonhmas in Hong Kong in August 2018 at HK$2.6m (US$343,000).

Last year saw a number of substantial records set for Scotch whisky, starting again with Bonhams in Hong Kong and a bottle of 60 year-old 1926 The Macallan with a label by Valerio Adami which made HK$8.6m (US$1.1m).

Later that year a bottle of the same whisky but with a unique hand-painted design by Michael Dillon was sold by Christie’s in London for £1.1m – the most expensive bottle of wine or spirit ever sold.

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