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Ichiro

Ichiro Akuto is arguably the king of independent Japanese distillers, despite working out of an exceptionally modest premise with just two small pot stills in Chichibu, a town 100 km northwest of Tokyo. Despite this, Akuto’s single malts have consistently won rave reviews and achieved significant milestones, for example, in 2015 he sold a bottle of 1960 Karuizawa single malt for $118,500 at an auction in Hong Kong, a record for a Japanese whisky. Not bad for what is technically Japan’s smallest distillery.

Akuto’s education of whisky distillation came through the family business. His grandfather was originally a sake maker, running a sake brewery, Hanyu Distillery, established in 1625, when he obtained a distiller’s license to produce whisky in 1941. Akuto’s father continued the work his grandfather had began and his dabbles in whisky led him to purchase two stills from Scotland that could produce about 400 casks. In 2000, however, economic decline in Japan and a reduction in sake consumption forced the family to sell their business.

Ichiro Akuto’s turned this potential crisis into an opportunity, however, and gleefully snapped up the unwanted stills and casks of maturing whisky from the brewery’s new owners. He followed this with the launch of Venture Whisky in 2008 and produced his first label – Ichiro’s Vintage Single Malt 1988 – the following year. Much of the rest of the inherited stock went into Venture’s award-winning ‘card’ series, such as Ichiro's Malt The Joker (colour), which sold out as soon as they went on sale.

Today, Ichiro continues to implement the techniques learnt from many years at Hanyu Distillery and is one of the most ambitious Japanese distillers in operation. Some 4,000 sherry, wine and bourbon casks are currently maturing, while Akuto has begun experimentation to grow barley locally, hoping to produce a genuinely Japanese whisky. Ichiro also has the distinction of employing one of Japan’s last remaining coopers to maintain an on-site cooperage and train staff.

Examples of Ichiro Akuto’s excellent work can be purchased here, such as Ichiro's Malt & Grain and Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries.

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu IPA Cask Finished 2017

70cl, 57.5%

A rare release of single malt from the Ichiro's Malt series, featuring Chichibu single malt whisky finished in casks that previously held IPA beer. Very collectible and likely delicious. This…  More info

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu IPA Cask Finished 2017
$422.65

Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries

70cl, 46%

From the cracking Ichiro’s Malt range, this is a vatting of whisky from both the Hanyu and Chichibu distilleries. The whisky was matured in Japanese oak, and vatted and bottled at Chichibu in 2010.  More info

Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries
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$106.94

Ichiro's Malt Hanyu 15 Year Old

70cl, 46.5%

A rare and incredibly exciting bottling of 15 year old Hanyu Japanese single malt whisky, bottled as part of the Ichiro's Malt range from stocks acquired by the eponymous Ichiro Akuto after Hanyu…  More info

Ichiro's Malt Hanyu 15 Year Old

Ichiro's Malt The Joker (colour)

70cl, 57.7%

The final card in the legendary Ichiro's Malt Card series from the closed distillery of Hanyu (along with the even rarer single cask monochrome Joker). The colour Joker is a single malt from 14 casks…  More info

Ichiro's Malt The Joker (colour)

Ichiro's Malt Wine Wood Reserve

70cl, 46%

A "Pure Malt" (as the label says) whisky from the Ichiro's Malt series, containing whisky from the closed Hanyu distillery and matured, vatted and bottled at the Chichibu distillery. This edition was…  More info

Ichiro's Malt Wine Wood Reserve
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Ichiro's Malt Chichibu 2010 Chibidaru (bottled 2014)

70cl, 53.5%

A sought-after bottle of Chichibu single malt whisky matured in quarter casks, which are much smaller than your standard cask. Interestingly, the name "Chibidaru" means "cute casks" in Japanese! This…  More info

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu 2010 Chibidaru (bottled 2014)

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu 2009 Port Pipe (bottled 2013)

70cl, 54.5%

A rare Port pipe matured Chichibu bottled in 2013. A fruity bottling from a Japanese distillery that always shows well at relatively young ages. This bottle was part of a private…  More info

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu 2009 Port Pipe (bottled 2013)
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Ichiro's Malt & Grain

70cl, 46%

A lovely blended whisky from Japan, created by Ichiro Akuto, the Japanese whisky extraordinaire. This particular gem is made with both malt and grain whisky from Japan as well as (possibly) some…  More info

Ichiro's Malt & Grain
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Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve

70cl, 46%

Bottled in 2010, this was crafted by Ichiro Akuto, this is a vatting of various single malts which have been aged in Japanese Mizunara oak. It’s an incredible whisky, with loads of character from the…  More info

Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve
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Ichiro's Malt Hanyu 23 Year Old

70cl, 58%

A staggeringly good 23 year old Hanyu! This was made with spirit distilled in 1985 and 1986, which was then aged in sherry wood. This cask strength release was bottled for the Ichiro’s malt range…  More info

Ichiro's Malt Hanyu 23 Year Old
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Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu 15 Year Old

70cl, 46%

A delicious 15 year old Hanyu from the Ichiro’s malt range. This was distilled in 1995 and was finished in French oak. The results are stunning!  More info

Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu 15 Year Old
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Ichiro's Malt 1986 King of Hearts

70cl, 55.4%

An incredible addition to the Ichiro's Malt Card range. Each whisky, in very modish style, is named after a playing card. We love them! This was distilled at the Hanyu distillery in 1986, and aged in…  More info

Ichiro's Malt 1986 King of Hearts

Ichiro's Malt 1991 Five of Clubs

70cl, 57.4%

Part of the cult Ichiro's malt range of playing-card themed whiskies, distilled at the Hanyu distillery. This Five of Clubs was finished in a Japanese Mizunara oak Hogshead! Part of a release of just…  More info

Ichiro's Malt 1991 Five of Clubs
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