Best recognized internationally for its single malt whisky, Japanese spirits large Suntory has launched a craft gin.
But earlier than you accuse the Yamazaki distiller of bandwagon leaping, take into account that it has truly been within the gin enterprise for generations.
Suntory entered the class with the launch of Hermes Dry Gin in 1936. That product was finally discontinued in 1980, however the firm has had gin in the marketplace constantly, in a single type or one other, ever since.
“In this regard our company has over 80 years of gin making history,” says Suntory grasp distiller Kazuyuki Torii.
Living the dream
None of the pre-existing Suntory gins have ever been bought exterior of Japan. But Torii says it was at all times it was the dream of Suntory’s late founder, Shinjiro Torii, that gin produced in Japan would in the future be cherished everywhere in the world.
Suntory hopes to lastly fulfil its founder’s ambitions with the launch of Roku Gin, obtainable in Australia from July 16.
Gathering on the supply
Earlier this 12 months, the distiller assembled a global group of journalists in Osaka, Japan for a preview of the product.
The setting was Suntory’s oldest manufacturing base, dubbed merely ‘Osaka Plant’, however the gin unveiled was considerably extra elaborate.
According to Suntory, Roku (that means ‘six’) has been crafted by refined Japanese artisanship that artfully balances six distinctive Japanese botanicals to create a wonderfully balanced, multi-layered gin.
Bottling the native
The distiller experimented with numerous totally different native botanicals earlier than deciding on the ultimate six, which coincidentally are harvested at their peak throughout the 4 seasons. They are sakura flower and leaf (spring), sencha tea and gyokuro tea (summer time), sancho pepper (autumn) and yuzu citrus (winter).
The domestically sourced elements are underpinned by eight traditional gin botanicals, led after all by juniper.
“We wanted this Roku Gin to be within the realm of traditional gin. We wanted our gin to be unique and different from traditional gins, but we didn’t want to make it a strange gin,” Torii stated.
“We considered other popular [Japanese] ingredients such as wasabi or shiso leaves, but we decided not to go with those two.”
Deviations and numbers
Continuing the theming of six, the Roku gin is packaged in a wonderful hexagonal bottle, with every of the totally different botanicals embossed throughout its six faces.
“We did not try to pick six botanicals to put in Roku Gin at first. We may have called it seven if we ended up with seven botanicals… or ‘kyuu’ means nine in Japanese. [But] then probably the manufacturing process would have been more difficult for this glass bottle,” Torii stated wryly.
To make Roku Gin, Suntory needed to deviate from the standard gin making course of, during which the botanicals are steeped within the base spirit and distilled altogether directly.
“If we do that process it will be difficult for us to extract the essential oils and aromatics from these Japanese botanicals,” Torii defined.
Suntory used the very uncommon technique of vacuum distillation to extract the perfume from the sakura (cherry blossom) and a copper pot nonetheless to attract out the deep flavour of the yuzu.
“We are using fresh ingredients, fresh flowers and leaves. So if we use the traditional process, [the sakura] comes out ‘cooked’ and the taste profile becomes very different,” Torii defined.
“That is the explanation why we’re utilizing the vacuum distilling course of… the distilling temperature will be maintained very low.
“If we distil yuzu by utilizing a standard pot nonetheless, we can’t be capable of get a novel aroma of yuzu. The end result turns into similar to lemon peel.
“Roku is created through blending these different processed liquids into one in the final stage,” he stated.
Complexity to style
Torii stated the yuzu brings a high be aware of “tender sweetness” to Roku Gin, which has a clean and silky texture. It is balanced by the floral and candy aromas of cherry blossom and candy tea, with the standard gin botanicals appearing as its base.
“The crisp Japanese sancho pepper brings a little spiciness to the finish. The taste is complex, multi-layered, yet harmonious,” he stated.
“We believe that this gin represents Japanese authenticity. It’s not a simple gin that has a taste profile of yuzu-flavoured gin or tea-flavoured gin.”
Printed on conventional Japanese washi paper, Roku’s label declares it’s ‘The Japanese Craft Gin’, which Torii stated displays the spirit’s small batch manufacturing.
“We don’t think the word ‘craft’ is restricted to being used by a small manufacturer,” Torii stated.
“We name our gin ‘craft’ as a result of it makes use of a standard course of primarily based on the Japanese tradition.
“We undergo a painstaking course of to provide our Roku craft gin. Our six botanicals are handpicked at one of the best season to get one of the best out of the elements.”
Suntory’s serving suggestion for Roku is a ‘Japanese gin and tonic’ garnished with some finely sliced ginger, or the extra impartial mixture of gin and soda to enhance Japanese meals.
“But we might like customers to first familiarise themselves with the profile of Roku gin itself, so for instance, by including ice and seeing how the style evolves because the ice melts,” Torii stated.
The author was a visitor of Suntory.
James Atkinson from executivestyle.com.au