Ichiro’s Malts “Joker”; The Conclusion to the Iconic Card Series

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Ichiro’s Malt Card Joker Technicolor
700ml, 57.7% ABV, Bottled in 2014
Bottle # 2,255 of 3,690 Produced
Vatting of: 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991 and 2000 Vintages
Casks: Chibidaru, Bourbon, Madeira, Hogshead, Sherry Butt, Cognac and Puncheon

Since this company’s onset we have made no secret of our infatuation with Ichiro Akuto’s, and his grandfather’s, whiskies. Many people are familiar with Ichiro’s “Card Series”, a select 54 different bottlings of single cask whiskies distilled at Hanyu, that had been released over the past decade. This series came to a conclusion in 2014 with the release of the joker, both a technicolor and monochrome bottling though I have only seen the latter at Gen Yamamoto’s bar in the Azabu-Juban district of Tokyo back in 2014.

The technicolor joker is a vatted malt, or what scotch whisky producers refer to as a blended malt, which stands in stark contrast the rest of the series which were all single barrel releases. With this final bottling Ichiro utilized, and showcased, the vast diversity of his grandfather’s barrels and aging regiments.

There were 3,690 bottles released upon its completion, none of which came to the U.S., and were mainly destined for domestic Japanese consumers, Hong Kong, Taiwan and select countries in Western Europe. In comparison, the monochrome joker was a mere 241 bottles and remained a single cask of Hanyu from 1985 finished in Japanese (Mizunara) oak.

Followers of Sole Agent’s mailing list and website know that we very rarely, if ever, outsource our opinions and tasting notes when it comes to the products that we represent but there is always an exception that proves the rule. Stefan Van Eycken wrote probably the most provocative and in depth examination of this whiskey back in April of 2014, not long after its initial release, which can be view here on Chris Bunting’s fantastic site Nonjatta.

This is one of the most sought after Japanese whiskey bottlings on the planet, in conjunction with the rest of the card series and older vintages of the lost distillery Karuizawa, it is very doubtful we will ever have one in our possession again.