Gin is not a spirit that you normally associate with Japan. However, in recent years, an increasing number of artisan Japanese gin distilleries have sprung up. Many Japanese gins have not made it to the global market yet, but they are certainly popular in Japan. It would seem that distilling gin is an art the Japanese learned in the UK, took back to their own country, and added their own Oriental touch.
- Distillery: Roku
- Country: Japan
- ABV: 43%
- Bottle Sizes: 700ml
- Known Botanicals: Sakura flowers, cherry leaves, green tea, juniper, angelica root and seed, coriander, cinnamon, bitter orange, lemon peel and cardamom.
- Base Spirit: Grain
The Roku Gin Distillery
Osaka is one of the most beautiful cities in Japan. It is not the sort of place where you would expect to find a gin distillery. But, in this metropolis of over 2.6 million people, is where you find the Roku Gin Distillery.
Manufactured In Japan – What A Surprise?
The fact that a gin is manufactured in Japan surprises many people. However, as we do know, the Japanese like to take things and put their own stamp on them. That is exactly what they have done with Roku Gin. Manufactured in a modern plant, Roku Gin has a distinct Japanese flavour that you will love if you are looking for a gin with a difference.
What Is The ABV of Roku?
Is Roku Gin a real gin? Yes, Roku is a real gin. For a spirit to qualify as a gin, it needs to have an ABV level of at least 40%. Roku Gin has an ABV of 43%. In many ways, if it had higher alcohol by volume, the alcohol would perhaps overpower the more delicate botanicals in the gin.
Currently, Roku Gin is only sold in one bottle size around the world. It is surprising as Roku is quickly growing in popularity. If you would like to buy Roku Gin today, you will find that it is available in a 700ml bottle.
But, if you do visit Japan, you will find that it is often sold as miniatures. Traveling in Japan, you will soon realize the Japanese are fond of their automatic vending machines. And yes, you can even find alcoholic spirits for sale in vending machines in Japan.
Is Roku Gin exported? Yes, Roku Gin is exported all over the world and is quickly growing in popularity.
Japanese Gin Botanicals
What really makes Roku Gin unique is its Japanese botanicals. The moment you open the bottle, you will notice the premier one – cherry blossom. Although blossoms are often added as a botanical to modern distilled gins, the addition of cherry blossom is what makes Roku Gin unique.
It may say Sakura flowers on the label. Don’t let that confuse you, Sakura flowers are cherry blossoms. Along with cherry blossom, you will also find that cherry leaves, green tea and Sansho pepper have been added to the gin. It is worth pointing out that green tea is added in two forms. Green tea (Sencha) is added both as a leaf and then as a refined green tea.
You will also find that traditional gin botanicals including juniper berries, angelica root and seed, coriander, cinnamon, bitter orange, lemon peel and cardamom further enhance the taste experience.
The Base Spirit In Roku Gin
The base of Roku Gin is grain. When you first try it, you will find that it has a slightly oily texture that sticks to the tongue. This comes from the grain but is also derived from the use of angelica seed and root.
Has Roku Gin Won Any Awards?
It would seem that Roku is still a gin that we are gradually getting familiar with. Although it has won an award for the best cartoon in 2020, it would appear that the taste has not as yet tantalized gin lovers across the world enough for it to win an award.
How Does It Taste?
Roku Gin is unique. Perhaps it is as much about the ambience as it is about the gin itself.
It is true that if you drink Roku in a Japanese setting, you will appreciate the botanicals more. The first note that your palate will pick up on is indeed cherry blossom. The taste is light and airy. In other words, it goes hand in hand with the more oily and lingering consistency of the gin.
After the taste of cherry blossom, the other botanicals will start to “express” themselves on your tongue. You will pick up slightly peppery and spicy notes that will surprise you a little bit. Never rush drinking this gin – it is too packed with taste sensations for that.
How To Drink Roku and Accompaniment Recommendations
The best accompaniment is probably nothing. By all means, you can try adding a small amount of tonic water. Soda or bitter lemon will completely overpower the taste.
The best way to drink Roku is with ice, before a meal or after a spicy course.
What We Do And Don’t Like About Roku
New to drinking gin? If so, you need to realize that many gins are comparable to fine wines. That is exactly how to think about Roku.
It is packed with taste sensations and notes that deserve to be savored. If you have the time to do so, this is the gin for you. It deserves to be appreciated.
When you are not a gin connoisseur, it is fair to say that Roku Gin may not be for you. But, if you find yourself in a Japanese restaurant, you should by all means try it. Remember to sip – that is crucial.
Roku Gin goes to prove that exciting gins are being created all over the world. This is a gin for lovers of extravagant flavors and for those who like something different. The bottle is beautiful and makes a great gift. There is no reason why you should not try this Japanese take on gin.