The Ichiro's Malt Card Series is a bellwether for the hype surrounding Japanese whisky. It's pretty much a perfect whisky story: a closed distillery, the liquid and casks being rescued from obscurity by a grandson, then bottled for an extremely limited yet collectible series that helped usher in explosive worldwide demand for Japanese whisky.
For anyone that's been into Japanese whisky for even a handful of years, it's impossible to forget this $500K auction in Hong Kong for a full deck that made headlines around the world in 2015. There's even an index that tracks prices of the series in secondary markets.
But as Yumi Yoshikawa, brand ambassador for Venture Whisky's Chichibu Distillery says about the series, Ichiro-san's original intention was that "people don't just keep them, but drink them." In other words, the lineup is not supposed to be about hype and speculation, but instead actually enjoying the variety of whisky from the Hanyu Distillery.
If you play your cards right (pun intended!), and you can afford it, that's exactly what you could be doing in Sweden this coming November. The "Monocrome Joker Club" event promises a tasting of 54 bottles in the Card Series (out of a total of 58 bottles -- see comments below), and will be held November 2nd and 3rd at the well-reviewed Upper House in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The tasting will be led by Whisky Rising: The Definitive Guide to the Finest Whiskies and Distillers of Japan author and nonjatta.com chief editor Stefan Van Eycken. Each participant will sample 1cl each of 13-14 bottles per flight, with two flights on November 2 and two flights on November 3. There will also be a champagne tasting event held in the evening for spouses (or not-spouses?) by Swedish Champagne expert Richard Juhlin.
Those interested can try and land one of the few seats by signing up for more details on the event site. The price I assume will be "high" but exactly how high will be influenced by the aforementioned Hanyu Cards Index, and only revealed when seats are available. That said, the site estimates 600K GBP for a full set today -- so back-of-the-envelope, even at cost you're looking at around $11.2K USD.
My all-expenses-paid invite seems to have been lost in the kerfuffle, but if you're able to make it, the memories should last a lifetime.
Whiskey Richard is the founder of nomunication.jp, and has been saying he has lived in Japan for ten years for the past four years. He enjoys drinking basically anything except straight-up Campari.