Two years ago, when Aaron Chan heard that a liquor store in Athens might have a rare Hanyu Ichiro Malt Japanese whisky, he phoned the shop from Hong Kong. Unable to make himself understood, he e-mailed photos of the distillery’s distinctive playing-card labels to the shop. The owner replied with a picture of his bottle—the label was the Ace of Spades.
“That was my eureka moment,” says Chan, who paid about HK$6,000 ($774) for the whisky. “The Ace of Spades was very, very rare already.” Another bottle of Ace of Spades went for HK$85,750 at a Bonhams auction on Aug. 15 in Hong Kong—14 times what Chan paid and slightly more than the price of an entire case of 1982 Château Margaux wine from Bordeaux that Sotheby’s sold in New York in June.