The Famed Japanese Whisky Brand Hanyu May Start Production Again

If all goes right, a rebuilt distillery is scheduled to open in early 2021

Hanyu Ichiro's Full Card Series
This playing card series of Japanese whisky utilizes juice from the shuttered Hanyu distillery

The well-loved Hanyu distillery in Japan stopped production in 2000, leaving only 400 whisky casks that later gained international renown (along with a huge price bump) as the Playing Card Series of Hanyu.

Those particular releases — a common sight at high-end whisky auctions —are “a set of 52 playing card-themed bottlings, which have become some of the rarest and most desirable whiskies on Earth,” as Frank Cisneros, the consulting beverage director at NYC’s Bar Moga, told us a few years ago. The releases were put out by Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of Hanyu founder Isouji Akuto.

But now the drinks company Toa Shuzo may open up the Hanyu distillery again, possibly as early as next February, according to the trade publication The Drinks Business.

So far we only know that the company is planning on making a replica of the pot still originally used in the former distillery. As Flaviar notes about that original piece of equipment: “Hanyu used continuous stills for 40 years when producing their grain Whisky. In the 1980’s, game changing pot stills were introduced, increasing the number of malt Whisky barrels.”

Toa Shuzo — which manufactures an, ahem, “interesting” hand sanitizer (turn on your translation) — had pivoted to sake production after dismantling the original whisky distillery. “By refining our technical capabilities, we have regained the trust of our customers, and managed to stabilize our management base and re-establish our business,” the company notes in a press release. “Now that we can see the results for life, we have decided to construct a distillery.”


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