JAPAN’S HANYU DISTILLERY TO BE REOPENED TO RIDE POPULARITY OF THE 'CARDS SERIES'
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Owner of the discontinued Hanyu Japanese whisky brand, Toa Shuzo Co Ltd, is rebuilding the Hanyu distillery in Hanyu city in Saitama prefecture, reopening of the distillery is expected in February 2021.
Hanyu distillery is the producer of the casks that made the Ichiro’s Malt 'Cards Series' which has achieved cult status among whisky collectors in recent years.
A full set of 54 bottles of Ichiro’s Malt 'Cards Series' was sold in August last year in Hong Kong for HKD7.19 million (USD917,000).
Toa Shuzo, now part of cooking sauce producer Hinode Holdings, said in a press release that it is creating a replica of the original pot still from the old Hanyu distillery to resume production of malt whisky as early as February next year.
The original Toa Shuzo acquired a licence to manufacture whisky for Hanyu in 1946. It initially used continuous stills and imported Scotch whisky to make blended whiskies from its premise. In 1980, pot stills were installed and the company started producing its own malt whiskies.
The production continued until 2000 when Hanyu distillery was shut down due to plummeted whisky demand in Japan.
Toa Shuzo joined Hinode in 2004 and is now producing sake, shochu and the Golden Horse whisky brand.
The revived Hanyu distillery is set to benefit from the cult status of Ichiro’s Malt “Card Series” though its current owner Hinode was not involved in creating the series at all.
The 'Cards Series' creator is Ichiro Akuto who is grandson of Hanyu’s founder Isouji Akuto. Upon the closure of the old Hanyu distillery, Ichiro decided to buy the remaining 400 casks of Hanyu malt whisky and some equipments from Hinode which is not a specialist in whisky production.
Ichiro then quit his job in Yamazaki distillery and focused on making his own brands including releasing the Ichiro’s Malt 'Cards Series' from the old Hanyu casks and distilling new whiskies from his own Chichibu distillery.
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