Expand your Gin horizons with six Japanese gins that bring new flavors and stunning bottles to your collection.
It should come as no surprise that Japanese distillers are leading the way in unique, botanical gins. The use of creative infusions and flavor balancing is something distillers and blenders have mastered over generations. What can American drinkers expect? Japanese-made gins use much less juniper and opt for citrus or other botanicals as the leading flavor. Many of the gins from the region feature notes of bright yuzu and a range of botanicals like shisho and sansho pepper.
Made in Hokkaido, Japan’s Northern Island, this unique gin starts its journey with bitter green orange peel, licorice, angelica root, and coriander macerating in a neutral spirit for over 24 hours. The mixture is distilled in a swan neck copper still to reach 83% and then diluted to 43% with pure water from the Taisetsu Mountains. On the palate, expect fresh and well-balanced notes of peppers, green tea, and berries finishing with sansho pepper and aromas of yuzu.
Bottled at 47% ABV, Nikka Coffey first launched their gin line in 2017 as a natural extension of their beloved whisky line. 11 botanicals are blended to create a bright and silky spirit perfect for drinking alone or in cocktails. Four kinds of Japanese citrus are used to create a zesty aroma, including Yuzu, Kabosu, Amanatsu, and Shequasar, which pair perfectly with the historical hint of Nikka apple and the tangy hints of green Sansho pepper.
Created by master sake and whiskey maker Kimio Yonezawa, 135 East is the first gin from the Hyogo prefecture. The spirit uses five botanicals sourced locally: sencha (a green tea), yuzu, shiso leaf (a member of the mint family), ume (ripe Japanese plum varietal), and shanso pepper, along with a few classic gin botanicals to create a truly unique flavor. The botanicals are carefully distilled into a neutral grain spirit before being crowned with a touch of sake to smooth out the blend. Each botanical is separately distilled using techniques common to the perfume industry, giving the line complete control over the final balance of flavors.
Using 100-years of distilling techniques, the master distiller at Sakurao Gin works carefully to blend ingredients from Hiroshima with imported juniper berries for a delightful blend of flavors. The mix of nine botanicals includes yuzu, Japanese cypress, oyster shells, and cherry blossoms, which are added in using a combination of vapor and steeping methods.
Distilled, blended, and bottled in Kyoto, Ki No Bi is a dry gin with Japanese flavor. The name, which translates to “The Beauty of the Seasons” is a perfect match for the locally sourced botanicals including yuzu, hinoki wood chips, bamboo, gyokuro tea from the Uji region and green sanshō berries. The botanicals are separated by elements: base, tea, herbal, citrus, floral, fruity, and spice and distilled individually to allow for a highly precise blending of flavors.
Made from the pure water of the Japanese Central Alps, Kanomori uses a blend of 19 botanicals for a complex and herbal gin. The maker, Yomeishu, is famous for their medicinal liqueurs, which translates to their use of Kuromoji as the prime botanical in their first craft gin launch. Kuromoji is a type of shrub used in a range of products; it has a floral, lemony, and lightly woody flavor. Notes of juniper and black licorice pair with allspice and citrus in this unique, vegetal spirit. As it doesn’t feature too much juniper, the finish isn’t very dry and ends with woody notes.