Japanese drinks are some of the most diverse beverages on the planet. There’s a certain craftsmanship that must be admired in the brewing process of Japanese alcohol. This can be seen in the amount of effort that toji, master sake brewers, put into the production of sake. The same level of care is given to other beverages like gin, and my favourite type happens to be Roku gin.
Finding the gin that’s right for you
It’s no secret that we’re living in a gin renaissance. Every year, there seems to be a new kind of flavour coming out to keep pace with customer demand for weird and wonderful blends. While that’s exciting, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of choice on the shelves. There’s a gin out there to suit everyone’s tastes, but how do you go about finding the one that reaches you on a personal level?
Sometimes, you just happen to get lucky. That’s what happened to me. One night, I stumbled into Peter Street Kitchen in Manchester, an award-winning restaurant that features a Japanese Mexican fusion menu and incredible bar influenced by the Land of the Rising Sun.
After browsing the top shelf, I was drawn to a gin I’d never tried before. And as soon as I’d took my first sip I knew that Roku gin was different than any other gin I’d tasted before.
A standout drink
Produced by Suntory, Roku (meaning six) gin features six Japanese botanicals that celebrate the four seasons. They include sakura leaf and sakura flower for spring, sencha tea and gyokuro tea for summer, sansho pepper for autumn and yuzu peel for winter. Other botanicals that are traditionally featured include orange peel, coriander, cinnamon and lemon peel.
What’s intriguing about Roku gin is that it was blended in a non-traditional manner. According to Suntory’s master distiller Kazuyuki Torii, the company used a rare method of vacuum distillation to extract sakura fragrance and utilised a copper pot still to extract the flavour of the yuzu.
“We are using fresh ingredients, fresh flowers and leaves. So, if we use the traditional process, the sakuru comes out ‘cooked’ and the taste profile becomes very different. That’s the reason why we are using the vacuum distilling process…the distilling temperature can be maintained very low.”
“If we distill yuzu by using a traditional pot still, we won’t be able to get a unique aroma of yuzu. The outcome becomes very similar to lemon peel.”
Torii also placed an emphasis on the craftsmanship of the ingredients by saying “we call our gin ‘craft’ because it uses a traditional process based on the Japanese culture. We go through a painstaking process to produce our Roku craft gin. Our six botanicals are handpicked at the best season to get the best out of the ingredients.”
Suntory’s attention to detail produced a drink with a spicy, multi-layered taste that lingers on the tongue. I’d recommend going for a ginger garnish because it compliments the peppery taste.
The multi-faceted quality of Roku gin makes it one of the best drinks on the market and it currently sits at the top of my gin list. Buy a bottle and taste it for yourself.
What are some of your favourite gins?