Business

These craft gins celebrate traditional Japanese flavors

By Rebecca Cairns, CNN

Published 11:15 PM ET, Thu October 22, 2020
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Using lemons, mikan (Japanese oranges), and sansho peppers — a relative of the tongue-tingling Sichuan peppercorn — Kiuchi Brewery's Save Beer Spirits Craft Gin has a citrus flavor, and is available as a traditional gin or as a sparkling canned cocktail. Click through for more Japanese craft gins. Sadamu Saito
The craft gin market in Japan has been growing since whisky giant Suntory launched its first craft gin, Roku, in 2017. Global sales volumes for Roku — which uses traditional Japanese ingredients including sakura flower, green tea, sansho pepper, and yuzu peel — increased more than tenfold from 2017 to 2019, according to Suntory. Beam Suntory
Japan's first dedicated gin distillery, Kyoto Distillery, opened in 2016. It's KI NO BI gin uses a rice spirit base and incorporates Japanese flavors like yellow yuzu, hinoki cypress wood chips, bamboo and green tea. JINNYAGI
Sakurao Distillery was opened in 2018 as the gin-focused extension of Chugoku Jozo, a 100-year-old sake and shochu maker. Its limited edition Hamagou gin has won multiple awards including The Gin Masters 2020, and the Tokyo Whisky and Spirits Competition 2020. Chugoku Jozo / Sakurao Distillery
Made at Asahikawa Distillery in the northern Hokkaido region, Etsu craft gin uses a neutral cane spirit with green bitter orange peel, coriander, licorice and angelica root botanicals for an unusual taste. It won a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2018. BBC Spirits
Nikka Whisky's Coffey gin is distilled in traditional, Scottish, column-shaped Coffey stills. The company's founder imported the stills from Scotland in 1963, having spent several years in the country, learning to make whisky. Launched in 2017, the gin is flavored with Japanese citrus fruits — yuzu, kabosu, amanatsu and shikuwasa -— balanced with spicy sansho peppers and apples. Asahi Breweries, Ltd., Japan
The second gin created by The Ethical Spirits & Co., Revive is made with Budweiser beer and flavored with lemon peel, beech wood, cinnamon and san'ontō (a dark, sweet sugar), as well as juniper berries. The Ethical Spirits & Co.