Whisky Focus - Ichiro’s Malt Card Full Deck Tasting

Ichiro’s Malt Card Full Deck Tasting

7th June 2019
Swedish whisky enthusiast Pye Palm set to host  the worlds most expensive whisky tasting, a tasting of the complete Ichiro’s Malt Card Collection.

If you have ever wanted to taste the Ichiro Malt Card collection from the Hanyu distillery in Japan now is your chance as between 1 - 3 November this year in Gothenburg, Sweden there will be an exclusive tasting event hosted by Swedish whisky enthusiast Pye Palm.

The Ichiro Malt Card collection tasting will be led by Japanese whisky expert, Stefan Van Eycken and considering the last time a complete Ichiro Malt Card collection sold at auction for $455,000 in September 2017 tickets for the event are not going to be cheap, with only 48 seats available at the event the cost of a single ticket is approaching $21,000.

Ichiro’s Malt Card Series originates from the Hanyu Distillery, one of the smallest and most renowned distilleries in Japan, which ceased production in 2000. The founder’s grandson, Ichiro Akuto saved 400 casks when the distillery shut down and the best ones, between 1985 to 2000 were used for the bottling of his playing-card collection.

"The estimated value of the full deck series today would be around $775,000. I could sell it, of course, but I think sharing the experience with other whisky enthusiasts is much more fun," says Palm, who has collected his series during several trips to Japan over the last 30 years.

Just like a full deck of playing cards, the collection features 52 single cask editions that each represent a card in a poker deck, plus two additional jokers. The bottles are signed by Ichiro Akuto, the distillery founder’s grandson, who saved 400 casks when the distillery shut down in 2000 and started the bottling of his playing card collection.

"The Ichiro's Malt Card Series is one of the most iconic series in the world of whisky. This is only the second time a complete tasting of the series will be held, and the first time ever that all the bottles are opened specifically for one event," says Belgian author and Japanese whisky expert Stefan Van Eycken, who is leading the tasting seminar in November.

The event will be held at the five-star Upper House hotel. It includes a dinner at the Michelin awarded Upper House Dining, a rooftop restaurant on the 25th floor overlooking the city of Gothenburg.

The whisky seminar will be divided into four tastings, so called flights. Each will include 13 to 14 bottles with a 1 cl tasting of each. Each bottle has its own original card label and its own unique flavour.

“Hanyu has a very particular character. Referring to Ichiro himself, it’s unlike any other whisky you’ve tasted before. Prepare some shiny, fresh and ripe fruits, colourful root vegetables, both brown and white sugar, and some exotic spices. Then mix all this with sweet and sour fruit juice in a glass. That’s the best way I can describe it,” says Van Eycken.

As an additional treat, a limited edition special malt will be released to commemorate the occasion.

All guests participating in the tasting seminar in Gothenburg will become honorable members of the Monochrome Joker Club. The club is founded by Pye Palm as an extension of the whisky tasting seminar, and is exclusive to the select few worldwide who have tasted all 54 casks of Ichiro’s Malt Card Series.

“I thought it would be fun to create a space for like-minded, passionate enthusiasts with a true dedication for the flavours of whisky. The idea is to invite members to a number of worldwide tastings of different Hanyu whiskies,” says Palm.

If you are interested in attending the Ichiro’s Malt Card Series Seminar visit the website www.mono-joker.club

If the tasting is a little out of your price range you may be interested in individual bottles of Ichiro Malt whisky which do occasionally come available to buy from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt

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