With a successful whisky making CV, the Japanese are turning their attention to juniper with the release of the first artisan Japanese gin.
The Kyoto Distillery – Japan's first dedicated craft gin distillery – has announced details of its Ki No Bi Gin following the award of its production licence, said to be the only one ever granted in Kyoto.
The gin's name translates to 'the beauty of the seasons', and takes inspiration from Japanese tradition, being distilled, blended and bottled in Kyoto. Coming in at 45.7%, the gin is dry and uses a rice spirit base, with what Kyoto describes as a distinct Japanese accent.
Botanicals used in Ki No Bi include yellow yuzu from the north of Kyoto Prefecture, hinoki wood chips (Japanese cypress), bamboo, gyokuro tea from the Uji region and green sanshō (Japanese peppercorn) berries. Fushimi water will also be used to reduce the gin to bottling strength.
The Kyoto Distillery, owned by Number One Drinks Company Japan (founded by industry veterans Marcin Miller and David Croll), will release the gin in Japan in October, with the international market to follow.
'To create our gin, we will be mastering not only the science of distillation as others have done before, but also the age-old art of blending,' explained head distiller Alex Davies. 'We will break down the botanicals in our gin into six different categories: base, citrus, tea, herbal, spice and floral and will then distil these separately before blending them back together again.'
Two copper Christian Carl stills have been installed in the distillery, a 140 litre still with an integrated botanical basket in the helmet and a 450 litre still with a swan neck, side-mounted botanical basket. The two stills have been designed to increase botanical flexibility and directly control flavour and aroma.
Croll added: 'We have worked hard to make a delicious dry gin, from local botanicals where possible, which does justice to the culture of craftsmanship for which Kyoto has been famed for over a thousand years.'