Hanyu is a Japanese whisky distillery that was closed in 2004. Due to the high quality of the whiskies and their great rarity, these have become coveted collectibles. It was at this distillery the “Ichiro’s Malt” whiskies were produced.
Hanyu was founded by the Akuto family who have an incredible history of brewing dating back to 1600. However, it took them a while to tun their attention to whisky. The first 350 years were focussed on primarily on Sake until the license to use large amounts of alcohol was granted in 1941. In 1941, Isouji Akuto, who belonged to the 19th generation of the Akuto family, built the Hanyu distillery, and received a license to produce alcohol in 1946. The Hanyu distillery was founded in the Japanese city of the same name, Hanyu. Hanyu lies on the Tone River, which is the second longest river in Japan after the Shinano. The city of Hanyu is located northwest of the Japanese capital Tokyo and has about 50,000 inhabitants.
There under the eyes of Isouji Akuto (Ichiro’s grandfather), Ichiro Akuto gained experience in manufacturing and produced his first whisky in 1980. In the 90s it happened: Hanyu released his first single malt whisky. At that time, the consumer was mostly asking for blended whisky. This has now shifted more clearly towards malt whisky. Unfortunately, Japanese whisky was only distilled in the Hanyu distillery until 2000. The pot stills and distillers were dismantled four years later.
In 2008, however, the founder’s grandson, Ichiro Akuto, decided to acquire the mature stocks and also the distillation systems and started the new production. These are now offered as Ichiro’s Malt Whisky series though old treasures from the Hanyu distillery, which should not be missing in any Japanese whisky collection, are still occasionally available.