The coveted "Card Series" has nearly doubled in price since its last sale four years ago.

By Mike Pomranz
August 16, 2019
Bonhams Hong Kong

If talk of a potential recession has got you down, don't worry: Here's another story about a collector spending an insane amount of money on whiskey to prove that at least some people have money to burn. A complete set of Hanyu Ichiro's "Card Series" whiskies sold in Hong Kong for $917,000 today, breaking the record for money spent on a single collection of Japanese whiskey, according to auction house Bonhams.

Bonhams Hong Kong

Not that $917,000 isn't a ton of money, but this record comes with some important qualifiers. First, the Card Series consists of 54 bottles (yes, like a deck of cards) — and though nearly $17,000 per bottle isn't pocket change, it is definitely far more reasonable. In fact, compared to the most expensive single bottle of Japanese whiskey ever sold — a 50-year-old Yamazaki that was auctioned off last year for $343,000 — this purchase seems like a downright bargain. Additionally, Japanese whiskey in general sells far below the world's most expensive whiskey — The Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old Scotch — which has repeatedly sold for over $1 million per bottle.

Still, the recent sale is definitely noteworthy. No more than four of these complete Card Series sets are said to exist, and the last time one was up for auction was in 2015 when Bonhams says it sold for $484,000. Seeing as the current sale is nearly double that price, it reinforces just how dramatically the value of fine whiskies has grown over the past four years, and points to the increasing demand for high-end Japanese whiskies specifically. As Daniel Lam, Bonhams director of wine & spirits, Asia, said in the lead up to the auction, "Four years since the Hanyu Ichiro's Full Card Series set the world auction record at Bonhams, the current market demand is at its strongest for Japanese Whisky." Today's sale would seem to hammer that point home.

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