Mr Ichiro Akuto has an interesting link to three of Japan's most famous distilleries, two lost, and one thriving. The Akuto family has a long tradition of distilling, starting with sake around Saitama since the 17th century. It was Ichiro's grandfather who, around 1946 founded the Hanyu distillery (羽生蒸溜所), which was dedicated to the craft of whisky distilling true to Scottish traditions. Unfortunately, Hanyu fell on hard times and closed around 2004, with the last batches distilled in 2000. If not for Ichiro, the last few hundred casks of Hanyu might have been lost, blended together with cheap liquor or worse, redistilled for ethanol. Luckily, Ichiro recognized the need to preserve his family heirloom (and also realized the excellent quality of the whisky) and so bought over the entire stock and moved them to Chichibu distillery (秩父蒸溜所), which Ichiro founded the same year Hanyu closed. Today, both Hanyu (what's left of it) and Chichibu are bottled under the "Ichiro's Malt" label, with the former getting increasingly rare and prices rising to stratospheric levels, while the latter are gaining worldwide fame as some of the best young whiskies available (after all, Chichibu only started operations in 2008). Oh, and how did Karuizawa, the other lost distillery fit into all this? It turned out when Kirin wanted to close down Karuizawa and dismantle the premises, they asked Number One Drinks, who bought over the Karuizawa stock, to remove the casks at once. With no storage facilities of their own, Number One turned to Ichiro who provided sanctuary for the Karuizawa stock by storing them at Chichibu!
This beautiful Spirit Shop' Selection bottling of Chichibu came from Casks #1402 (2011-2016 in an American oak hogshead, one of only 270 bottles) and #1883 (2012-2016 in a first-fill bourbon barrel, one of only 209 bottles). Available as a set only.
Size: 70 cl (Two-bottle set)
ABV: 61.2% (#1402); 55.7% (#1883)
Fill level: Good
With box?: Yes (note slight creasing)