Anyone who’s watched Lost In Translation, in which Bill Murray plays an aging American movie star in Tokyo to film an advertisement for Suntory whisky, will be familiar with the wonderful world of Japanese whisky. Dekantā have been specialists in this field since 1985, and have been selling Japanese whiskies online to enthusiasts worldwide since 2015. But the gin revolution has recently hit the shores of Japan and, thanks to Dekantā, we can now partake in that too.
Dekantā launched their small but perfectly formed gin collection earlier this year with five gin products from three companies; Suntory Spirits and Asahi Breweries, the major super-powers in the Japanese beverage and alcohol industry, and Japan’s first gin distillery – Kyoto. I was lucky enough to receive a small sample of their three showcase spirits and I highly recommend you check them out too.
From Suntory Spirits, Roku (meaning six in Japanese) is presented in a stunning hexagonal bottle upon which are embossed its six native botanicals – sakura flower, sakura leaf, yuzu peel, sencha tea (green tea), gyokuro tea (refined green tea) and sanshō pepper. These are cultivated over the four seasons, with each being harvested at its peak, before being distilled separately, in one of four distinct types of pot still, each chosen to best extract the flavour while also maintaining the individual characteristics of each botanical. Eight traditional botanicals are also included in the process (juniper berries, coriander, angelica seed and root, cinnamon, cardamom, bitter orange and lemon peel) to create a delicate yet complex gin. A ginger garnish adds a piquancy to the yuzu notes in this citrus-forward oriental spirit.
Ki No Bi Dry Gin
Ki No Bi Gin is the flagship spirit from Kyoto; Japan’s first gin distillery. The botanicals, which include yuzu, sanshō pepper, ginger and bamboo leaves, are separated into six categories (base, citrus, herbal, spice, floral and tea) each of which is macerated in rice spirit before being distilled individually and then blended back together. Not having any yuzu to hand, I garnished my G&T with lemon and lime instead and it was still sensational! A citrussy gin with a viscous mouthfeel, it was dry, distinctive and delicious.
Also available from Kyoto Distillery is the Ki No Bi Navy Strength, Ki Noh Bi Cask Matured, Ki No Bi Mori Version, bottled and released for the Mori bar in Ginza, Tokyo, and Ki No Tea Gin, developed in partnership with tea grower and blender Horii Shichimeien.
Nikka Coffey Gin
As the name suggests, Nikka Coffey Gin from Asahi Breweries, is made using a blend of malted barley and corn base spirits distilled in a Coffey still. Much like the other gins, the botanicals – which include Japanese citrus such as yuzu, kabosu, amanatsu, and shikuwasa – are separated into three groups before being steeped in the base spirit and redistilled in three different types of pot stills before being blended together again. As you would expect this is another citrus-heavy gin, though more orangey than lemony, with an earthy bitterness that underscores the flavours and makes for a well-rounded gin and tonic.
Since they launched their gin collection this summer, Dekantā have added two more exciting products to their site. From the well-established Okayama saké brewery comes Okayama Craft Gin, made using a rice shochu base, including Japanese peach among its botanicals and aged in oak barrels this promises to be an experimental and unique gin. Wa Bi Japanese Gin hails from Mars Shinshu’s new Tsunuki distillery and is produced in very small batches. With the exception of the juniper berries (sourced from Eastern Europe) the botanicals, including kumquat, yuzu and cinnamon leaf are grown in the Kagoshima Prefecture.
With more gins likely to join their collection over the coming months, if you’re at all tempted to turn your gin collection just a little bit Japanese, than look no further than Dekantā to ensure nothing is lost in translation!
Order your Japanese Gin with worldwide delivery from Dekantā. Use promo code GINREVOLUTION for 10% off your gin order.
With thanks to Dekantā for the complimentary samples.