Show me what is known about fraud and faked Playing Card bottles.
Click for Fake and Fraud.

Show me the Auction results.
Click for Auction results

Show me the Datatable and Score rules.
Data table contains a compilation of all Scores, Distilling year, Bottling year, Total age, ABV%,
Number of bottles released, Bottling site and Release prices (Tokyo).

Click for Data table and Score rules


How many complete collections may exist? Theoretically 122.
Practically much less as several of the original of Ace of Spade's 122 bottles have been consumed.
A full collection ought to include the two Jokers and the four primary and the four secondary
releases as well, see list of multiple issues below. Alltogether 58 versions.

Further, a collection could either be defined as a
-Complete, the four first releases and the four secondary releases are included (58 versions).
-Semi complete, any singular four to seven combination of the first and the secondary
releases are included (54-57 versions), except the 'Simple'.
or a
-Simple, the four secondary releases are included and none of the first releases (54 versions).

Why two Jokers?
Initially only one Joker was planned for the Playing card series.
Traditionally European deck of cards contains two Jokers, a black and a red.
Perhaps my suggestion, referring to the European tradition, influenced Ichiro to extend the series.

The Chrome Joker version is a blend of the unbottled leftovers from near each of all the second maturation Playing Card casks.
However, not all were included as some casks were bottled to 100% and some leftovers were sold prematurely for other purposes,
see the different stories at TRIVIA.

Which Card versions casks had parts of its leftovers/content sold to be used outside the Card series?
- Nine of Heart.
Its remains (Cask 9000) was probably eleveted from the Nine of Hearts ABV 46% to ABV 56.5 to yield 6x10 bottles.
They became labeled with six different non card motif and all with identical content.
These bottles, known as 'Hanafuda' are NOT declared by Ichiro Akuto as a part of the Card series (see also Trivia, Story 1).

-Two of Clubs.
Twentyfour bottles were skimmed from the cask (Cask 9500) to be used for the celebration of the 7th anniversary of the Tokyo bar Lagg Time during October 2006. At the bottling occasion the ABV% was 58. When Two of Clubs became bottled the following year the ABV% had dropped to 57%.
These bottles are NOT declared by Ichiro Akuto as a part of the Card series (see also Trivia, Story 2).

Which bottlings are believed or claimed to be Card series versions but are not ?
- Cask 9800.
The cask yielded 263 bottles. The bottling was a private one for the Shot Bar Zoetrope in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and its 3rd anniversary of the bar in 2009. The cask was a cask not earmarked for being a member of the Card series.
These bottles, known as 'The Fake Joker' insinuate to be a part of the card series but is not as the bottling is NOT declared by Ichiro Akuto as a part of the Card series (see also Trivia, Story 3).
- Cask 1702.
The cask yielded 345 bottles when bottled on behalf of Bar K6 in Kyoto, plus 120 bottles for the a special series called the 'Ghost series'. The Bar K6 version became labeled with 8 different label versions but holds same content. The labels mimics the Card series in the form of 'paired' cards. The 'Ghost series' is not linked to the Card series implicit or explicit.
The two bottlings are NOT declared by Ichiro Akuto as a part of the Card series (see also Trivia, Story 4)

Which versions have the lowest number of bottles issued? The original Ace of Spade, 122 bottles.
All others are between 124 and 3.690 bottles. See also multiple issues below.

Which version has the highest number of bottles issued? The Chrome Joker, 3.690 bottles.

Which versions has the highest score? Two of Heart (93 points).

Which versions has the lowest score? Three of Club (79 points).

What is the average score? 87 points.
Note; only one version is included in the sum where two occurs, the other score field is left blank in the table.

Which version had the highest release price in Tokyo? The Monochrome Joker. 36.000 Yen.

Which versions had the lowest release price in Tokyo? The original Queen of Heart and Nine of Heart, both 4.600 Yen.

Which versions has the lowest ABV? Nine of Heart, Ten of Spade, both are 46%.

Which versions has the highest ABV? Three of Heart, 61,2%.

Which versions is the oldest agewise? The Monochrome Joker, 29 year.

Which versions is the youngest agewise? Nine of Heart, 6 year.

Which versions are the earliest distilled? The four original versions of Ace of of Heart, Queen of Diamond, Nine of Diamond, Ace of Spade, and the Monochrome Joker, all in 1985.

Which versions are the latest distilled? 18 versions, all in 2000. See Fact table further down.

Which versions are the earliest bottled? The four original versions of Queen of Heart, King of Diamond, Jack of Club, Ace of Spade, all in 2005. All four were re-bottled from same casks in 2006. See list of multiple issues below.

Which versions are the latest bottled? The two Jokers. Bottled Spring 2014.

Which years did bottling occured? All years from 2005 to 2014, except 2013.

Which versions did not get bottled at 700ml? Nine of Heart, Ten of Spade, both are 720ml.

Which versions get bottled at 700ml as well as 720ml? Queen of Heart, King of Diamond, Jack of Club, Ace of Spade.

How many versions were bottled at the Sasanokawa Warehouses? 21 including the four secondary releases. Bottling occured from 2005 to and including 2007. From 2008 all bottling occured at Chichibu. See Fact table further down.

Which versions lack ABV% on front label? Queen of Diamond.

Which versions have different ABV% on front and and back label? Ace of Spade, secondary release. ABV% 55 on front and ABV% 55.7 on the back label.

Other label irregularities.
Back label consist of two parts, one English and one Japanese.
Some of the Eureopan label part lacks info regarding bottle size and ABV%.
Some of the Japanese label part have the ABV% truncated were there is an ABV% fraction, others have full value.
The Original Ace of Spade, King of Diamond, Queen of Heart and Jack of Club lacks Card value on the back label.

The front label layout on the four secondary releases differ from the original Jack of Club, Queen of Heart, King of Diamond and Ace of Spade. The original releases lacks the card value letter.

What type of cask, wood and volume was used for the First maturartion period?
The casks were all made of 100% American White Oak (Quercus Alba) and previously used in the Bourbon whisky trade, one time only.
The type of casks used was, as earlier stated, Hogsheads which is not a fixed size and often refitted (in Scotland) from smaller to larger size,
In the Hanyu's case the volume varied between 230 and 250 liter.
The origin of the previous Bourbon content is not traceable as most of the Hanyu Hogsheads were refitted from two or more Bourbon barrels, usually from different Bourbon distilleries.

How many months of the total maturation period, e.g. final age, was spent on the second maturation?
One to sixty-seven.

The question of multiple versions/issues.
Following versions exists in a second release e.g. same cask number but different number of bottles per release.
Bottle sizes varies as well.
Queen of Heart, 1990-2005, 15 years old, 720ml, 125 bottles. Not scored. This is the original bottling.
Queen of Heart, 1990-2006, 16 years old, 700ml, 324 bottles. This is the secondary bottling.
Jack of Club, 1991-2005, 14 years old, 720ml, 124 bottles. Not scored. This is the original bottling.
Jack of Club, 1991-2006, 15 years old, 700ml, 330 bottles. This is the secondary bottling.
King of Diamond, 1988-2005, 17 years old, 720ml, 124 bottles. This is the original bottling.
King of Diamond, 1988-2006, 18 years old, 700ml, 555 bottles. Not scored. This is the secondary bottling.
Ace of Spade, 1985-2005, 20 years old, 720ml, 122 bottles. This is the original bottling.
Ace of Spade, 1985-2006, 21 years old, 700ml, 300 bottles. Not scored. This is the secondary bottling.
This version also have an ABV of 55.7% e.g 0.7 higher than the original bottling!!!


Stefan van Eycken, editor of the Nonjatta web page for Japanese whisky news and whisky history, compiled the following two stories titled:

'In the Shadow of Ichiro’s Card Series: The Secret Playing Cards.'
Show me Story 1.

'In the Shadow of Ichiro’s Card Series: Bar Lagg Time 7th Anniversary Bottling.'
Show me Story 2.

Brian of the Whiskosity web page for whisky news and whisky history, compiled the following story titled:
'The Fake Joker'; also in the shadow of Ichiro’s Card Series.
Show me Story 3.

The Bar K6/Kyoto's NON-related card labels (BEWARE!)

Story 4 follows.

A note regarding the special Playing Card labels used by Bar K6 in Kyoto.

This version is NOT related to the traditional Playing Card series.

It is not confirmed, at the time of writing, if the use of the Playing Cards motifs were authorized by the distillery.

Further, this is the secondary bottling of the cask initially used for the Nonjatta 3rd Ghost Series release (yes, same cask (number). Eighty liters of the cask were used for the Ghost series 120 700ml bottles.
Due to evaporation the ABV% changed for the Bar K6 series bottling, it increased by some fraction.
Perhaps there will be more to come from this cask.

The content, regardless of the different label versions, all stems from one single cask, the Hanyu Cask # 1702. Oddly, the cask number is listed as # 123 on some of the K6 label versions. Later, it has been clarified that this was a printer mistake.

The malt whisky was distilled by Hanyu in 2000 and bottled in 2014; first for Nonjatta and its 3rd Ghost Series by Stefan van Eycken and then on behalf of Bar K6.
The ABV at the bottle occasion was 60%. Number of 700ml bottles yielded from the cask was 345 (approx 242 liters in total), divided upon 8 label versions.

The secondary maturation, beginning in 2009, was in a 500 liter oak cask (a botte) which previously had contained grappa from the Italian grappa maker Berta (
The cask for the secondary maturation was provided by Minoru Nishida of Bar K6. The origin of the initial cask is not known at the time of writing.

There seems to be eight different label versions for the same content. Four are showing a Blackjack hand with different but paired King and a Six colors plus the backside of three cards and carrying a cask number equal to 123. The other four versions shows only two cards, again with different but paired King and a Six colors, but lacking a cask number.


How most of the fakes are made.
Saved emptied bottles with the original pop-in cork kept are the simple tools to produce a fake. Such bottles, saved by individuals, or bought via the shady empty-bottle-trade on Ebay and alike sites are then refilled with some kind of whisky. As an example, an empty Joker Monochrome bottle went for USD 2.500 lately. The shrewd con artist do choose a whisky which colorwise match the original. However, some spotted fakes have been filled with odd colored fluid (whisky?)
A shrinkable plastic foil is applied on the top of the bottle.
Drum roll; here you have a perfect original look-alike copy.
Note; the plastic foil used for the Card Series is a standard foil easily obtainable from bottle equipment suppliers or at distilleries. Applying the plastic foil can be made by hand using a handheld shrink tool, also otainable from bottle equipment suppliers .
This is the way most of the known Card Series fakes are made.

A more cumbersome and costly method is to reprint front and back labels, stick them on an original but naked bottles, fill with whisky of choice and put an original cork and a shrinkable plastic foil on the top.

Also observed are bottles offered on a Japanese web site with WHITE top foils instead of the regular black. This is so obvious and a lame attempt to peddle re-filled fakes.

How are the fakes sold?
Primarily among individuals, direct or via private web sites. However, renowned whisky auction web-sites and auction houses with live whisky auctions have also been victims for such scams.

How can I protect myself?
Never buy from any source, including auction houses, which does not provide a written note stating a bottles provenance. Such note ought to include first level of acquirement. E.g. date, price and the name of shop where the bottle was initially purchased. By that you may identify the source as a licensed reseller of the Card Series and thereby minimize, but not eliminate, the risk.
Or, at least, ask for the provenance procedures exercised by the auction house you plan to do business with. Any reputable auction house will help you here, if not avoid to do business with them.

Are there examples of suspected fake bottles?
Here are some selected examples:

Example 1. A Jack of Spades from a Japanese auction site compared to an authentic version (the darker).

Example 2. Ace of Hearts from a Japanese auction site compared to an authentic version (the darker).

These images, are found on another web site. (August 7, 2015).

Example 3. A Jack of Spades at a Bonham (Hongkong) auction.

Follow link and compare to Example 1 above.

Example 4. Two Seven of Hearts from Japanese auction sites compared to authentic versions. One has the label upside down.

Suspected faked versions.

Authentic version.

The reason for bringing these examples forward is that they do not colorwise match my high definition color photo repository containing all my Card Series versions. They were all bought upon release in Japan and at licensed re-sellers as the producer did not legally sell direct to the public.

Further, the samples are also selected as an example of a simple authenticity check anybody can make. Just make a rough comparison with the object at hand and photos of my bottles on this web site. Sadly, they are not published in high resolution here. However, if the color deviates then be suspicious.

Click for return to top of Trivia page.


When it comes to scoring whisky, we Maniacs use a 1-100 scale that's roughly comparable to the 50-100 (actually more like 55-95)
scale used by the writers Robert Parker and Michael Jackson. The main difference is that for us, 50 is not the bottom line.
Our scale is supposed to include all alcoholic drinks (beer, wine, sherry, port, cognac, wodka, rum, etc.) and 50 points is the border
between> liking a certain drink and not liking it.
The Malt Maniacs are credited for the following scoring chart:

01 - 09: Barely drinkable gagwater. Serving me this may result in physical violence.
10 - 19: Truly disgusting. Varying degrees of awfulness; highly avoidable.
20 - 29: Only suitable for intoxication purposes. Best used as Anti-freeze.
30 - 39: Definitely not enjoyable. Don't pour me another glass, please.
40 - 49: Flawed. I'll drink it, but don't expect me to be happy about it.
Above 50 points I'm slowly starting to warm up to things.
My scores on the 'positive' end of the scale mean something like;
51 - 54: All things considered I like it, but just barely. It's a thin line between love and hate.
55 - 59: I'm far from crazy about this, but I could find some redeeming qualities.
60 - 64: Quite drinkable, but I could find nothing in there to get very excited about.
65 - 69: An altogether satisfactory experience, but somehow it doesn't fulfil its potential.
70 - 74: An enjoyable drink, just a tad below average. Could do better.
75 - 79: A very enjoyable drink; above average but not exciting enough to be reccommendable.
80 - 84: Recommendable. Very nice indeed, thank you. Pour me another one, please.
85 - 89: Highly recommendable. Wonderful! Never a dull moment with one of these.
90 - 94: Everybody should try this at least once in their life. Great liquids of the world.
95 - 99: Exceptional. The sort of stuff where price starts to become almost irrelevant.
100 pts: True 'aqua vitae'. Once you havee found this legendary drink then you can rest easy.


Glassware; All tasting perfomed with Glencairn standard glass.
Water; All tasting performed with the whisky undiluted.
Venues; Venues were not consistent. A bouqette of homes, bars, whisky
clubs, structured tastings sessions, whisky festivals and off course the PC
series home site (Chichibu) are the scenes were the tastings took place.
The timespan for the tasting was the period Spring 2006 to Spring 2013.


Card codes = HE=Heart, DI=Diamond, CL=Club, SP=Spade.
Italic= This is the secondary release for this version, hence, not the origin.
D = Year of distillation.
B = Year of bottling/release
Ag = Total age e.g. including secondary maturation period.
Nmb = Number of bottles released.
B = Bottling plant S is Sasanokawa Warehouses anf V is Venture Ltd or Chichibu Warehouses.
Yen = Are the over-the-counter prices in Tokyo on or around release date (1 EUR =120.93 Yen, 1 USD = 91.89 USD Spring 2013).
SC = Score. For multiple release cases only one score figure is entered.

Click for return to top of Trivia page.


Picture Copyright Bonhams

Estimated values for the Series as per August 29, 2015

* Complete (all 58 cards) USD 600.000 - ?
* Semi complete (54-57 cards, a mix of first and second releases included) USD 500.000-550.000 depending on composition of mix.
* Simple (54 cards, no first releases included) USD 400.00-450.000

Estimation is based on weighed auction prices and reported sales during the period 2014.01.01-2015.08.29


You may scroll back and forth on Bonhams homepage for their regular whisky auctions (Hongkong, Edinburgh and the US) to get the picture.

For the auction Aug 15, 2014, here are the results (cut and paste):
Browse through the lots to isolate the Card Series.
Note lot 147 'Ace of Spade' which went for GBP 7.290

The results for the auction Feb 6, 2015 auction is now out.
For catalogue and results cut and paste following link.
Browse through the lots to isolate the Card Series.
Note lot 110. The starting bids for the four Aces lumped together was GBP 14.000
Hammer price was GBP 16.842.

The results for the auction May 23, 2015 auction is now out.
For catalogue and results cut and paste following link.
Browse through the lots to isolate the Card Series.

The results for the auction August 28, 2015 auction is now out.
Auction August 28 present a complete Card collection of the 'simple' kind.
For catalogue cut and paste following link.
Browse through the lots to isolate the Card Series.

Next auction is November 20, 2015.

o WHISKYAUCTION.COM (leading web site for whisky auctions)

Here you will find historic auction prices for the Card Series.

Cut and Paste following link
On the left hand column at segment 'History (All)' select 'World'
On the new page (Description field search) write 'Hanyu', then chose 'Select'
Scroll and you will find date and prices for all Card Series versions sold via this web site over the years.

Click for return to top of Trivia page.

Email your addition of 'dorky' facts.

Click for return.