The history of the Japanese whisky Hanyu dates back to the 1600s, with the Akuto family producing sake in the town of Chichibu. Many years later, in 1941, the company built a factory in Hanyu and received their licence to produce alcohol in 1946, under the eyes of Isouji Akuto. It was here that they started to produce whisky in the 1980s, and in the 1990s they released a single malt whisky. Sadly, production stopped in 2000 (coincidentally close to the time when Karuizawa, another renowned Japanese distillery stopped production too), and was finally closed in 2004.
However, the story of Hanyu doesn’t stop there. While much of the distillery was dismantled, Ichiro Akuto (Isouji’s grandson) managed to purchase the remaining stocks of Hanyu whisky with plans to sell them - and he did just that, with the Ichiro’s Malt releases and the much adored Ichiro’s Malt Card series. Following this, Ichiro opened the Chichibu distillery in 2008.