Over the years, Japan has made many groundbreaking entrances to the vast liquor market with their variety of exquisite whiskeys. But as of late, they seem to be focusing more of their attention on other craft spirits—namely gin.
Harnessing the very best of local botanicals and natural ingredients from the motherland, Bean Suntory presents to the world, Roku Gin, a gin that contains six Japanese botanicals along with the traditional ingredients such as juniper berry, lemon peel, angelica root and the likes.
The result is a citrus and floral-driven spirit that exudes complex flavour profiles that you probably will not find it any European or new world gins. Beam Suntory is to roll out its Japanese gin, Roku, to international markets from September, expanding the brand’s reach outside of Japan for the first time.
While the company has been making gins since 1936, this is the first craft gin in the company’s portfolio and is also set to be the most popular. The product, made at Beam Suntory’s Osaka-based distillery, was initially only available in Japan. Now, its launch has been confirmed in Germany, Taiwan, and other countries in South-East Asia.
Bottled at 43% abv, Roku—meaning ‘six’ in Japanese—contains six Japanese botanicals, including sakura flower, sakura leaf, yuzu peel, sencha tea, gyokuro tea and sansho pepper, in addition to eight other botanicals traditionally found in gin.
All of the individual ingredients are meticulously selected and harvested during their seasonal peak from specific regions in Japan before they are made into individual distillates, stored and later blended to form Roku.
This timely approach is crucial because sakura flowers only bloom for two weeks in a year.
Roku Gin is fresh tasting with apparent notes of floral and citrus. It has an ethereal top note of cherry blossom, yuzu and subtle hints of green tea. Smooth and oily, the spirit has a rich character as it coats the tongue. The spirit itself has a good structure with prominent flavours of tea and fruit, although the finish tends to leave a relatively strong bitter, tannic note.
Roku’s bold and strikingly bitter profile does make it a challenging gin to make cocktails with. In the instance of a classic martini, it probably fulfils the complexity and depth that a vermouth traditionally would, all on its own.
For seasoned gin drinkers, this is definitely something to look forward to. Expertly crafted, Roku is a premium product that perfectly embodies the sheer magnificence and precision that is Japanese craftsmanship.