Marking a milestone in Japanese spirits history, authentic Japanese spirits retailer dekantā has introduced five Japanese gins available for shipping worldwide, offering fans a taste of these products before they’re released internationally.
Now established as a whisky industry world leader, Japan is set to emulate the success of Japanese whisky with its innovative gin products, which are infused with Japanese botanicals, such as cherry blossom, yuzu fruit and green tea, to evoke the spirit of Japan.
Gins from spirits industry heavyweights Suntory Spirits and Asahi Breweries, alongside products from Japan’s first ever craft gin distillery, mark Japan’s entry into the global gin scene. dekantā’s first gin collection will include five products from Japan’s leading distillers, all of which are either only available in Japan or will not be released in other countries until much later in the year.
The inaugural gin collection is Nikka Coffey Gin(47% abv, 700ml, 12,000 bottles produced – available now), released by Asahi Breweries Ltd in Japan on June 27, and Suntory ROKU Gin (47% abv, 700ml – available for pre-order), released in Japan in July. The ROKU gin is so named because of the six uniquely Japanese botanicals used in the distillation process: cherry blossom, cherry leaves, green tea (sencha), refined green tea (gyokuro), ‘sansho’ Japanese pepper and yuzu citrus fruit. The gin will be presented in a hexagonal bottle featuring engravings of the six Japanese botanicals.
Three bottlings from Kyoto distillery, which claims to be Japan’s first artisanal gin distillery, are featured in dekantā’s collection. Opened in Kyoto in 2016, the distillery makes use of a rare and meticulous technique, in which six different groups of botanicals are distilled separately and then blended. With a rice spirit base and water from the famous sake-brewing district Fushimi, these are thought to be the first products of their kind made in Japan. Kyoto’s flagship Ki No Bi Gin (45.7% abv, 700ml) offers the recognisable flavour of dry gin with a distinct Japanese accent.
Also available on dekantā is the Limited Edition Ki No Bi Dry Gin Navy Strength for Tokyo International BarShow 2017 (54.5% abv, 700ml), and Limited Edition Kyoto Ki No Tea Gin (45.7% abv, 700ml), which is developed in partnership with tea grower and blender Horii Shichimeien. The leaves used are harvested from the centuries old Okunoyama tea yard. Kyoto distillery claims the aromas of the gin ‘gives the impression of walking into a silent Japanese tea house.’
If Japanese gin achieves similar success to that of Japanese whisky, then 2017 will be a historic year in the spirits industry. “Japanese gins are produced with the meticulous attention to quality and innovation that has become a trademark of Japanese spirits production,” says dekantā founder Makiyo Masa.
“The rise of Japanese gin so far has been very similar to what we saw happening to Japanese whisky just a few years ago. As Japan is already known for its immense talent in creating spirits, be it sake, whisky, or wine, we anticipate that Japanese gin will take far less time to gain the recognition experienced by its predecessors. We’re very proud to be among the first to offer these gins to our customers worldwide and to be advocates of emerging Japanese gin.”