Of all the product launches at this year’s Bar Convent Berlin, there was one that jumped out at us: Suntory’s Roku Gin, which the company has labelled as a Japanese craft gin.
Made at the company’s distillery in Osaka, it’s made with barley spirit, and alongside eight traditional gin botanicals it has a further six Japanese botanicals: sakura flower, yuzu peel, sencha tea, sansho pepper, sakura leaf and gyokuro tea.
The nose is simultaneously citrus and savoury, wearing its yuzu influence on its sleeve, alongside mandarin, jasmine flowers, lime, bay leaf and almonds. The palate, however, is much creamier than the nose suggests, with a lovely full body.
The creamy sweetness gives way to citrus and spice that builds slowly but insistently – yuzu, numbing sansho pepper, clove and lime are underpinned by a saline tinge.
Adding tonic brought out more lemon and grassy notes, which was pleasant, but with that body we’d be keen to see what it would do in a Martini, or a Ramos Gin Fizz.
Already launched in some markets, including Germany, it’s not due to come to the UK until next year.
Japan is getting into gin in a big way, following last year’s launch of Ki No Bi gin from the Kyoto Distillery and this year’s launch of Nikka Coffey Gin – it’s definitely a country to keep an eye on in this field.