Japanese Gins Everyone Should Try

Japanese gin is growing in popularity and availability. Often regional ingredients are used with juniper generally on the light side. Perfect for both the aficionado and those that think they don’t like gin. Here are a few to consider!
Jan 04, 2020
  • 10
    3.88 out of 5 stars
    Unlike the brand's Original Dry Gin, Sakurao Limited Japanese Dry Gin only uses botanicals grown in Hiroshima. In addition to the nine Hiroshima-grown botanicals in the Original, they include: Japanese sakura (cherry blossoms), Japanese juniper berries, kuromoji (Japanese spicebush), kinome (Japanese pepper leaf), Hatsukaichi oyster shells, wasabi, juniper berry leaf, and ao shiso (green perilla).
  • 9
    4.08 out of 5 stars
    Sakurao Original Japanese Dry Gin is not only distilled in Hiroshima, but it is made using 9 botanicals from Hiroshima in addition to 5 other botanicals such as juniper and coriander. The local citrus ingredients include green lemon, navel orange, sweet summer orange, dai dai (bitter orange) and yuzu. Additionally, Hiroshima-grown hinoki (Japanese cypress), green tea, aka shiso (red perilla), and ginger are used.
  • 8
    3.35 out of 5 stars
    Masahiro Okinawa Gin is produced at Masahiro Distillery known for its awamori (a rice-based spirit made only in Okinawa). This gin is made using regional botanicals such as guava leaves, goya (a type of bitter melon), roselle (a type of hibiscus), Balinese long pepper, and shekwasha (a green citrus fruit native to Okinawa) in addition to juniper.
  • 7
    3.81 out of 5 stars
    Etsu Japanese Gin is made at the Asahikawa Distillery located on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The botanicals macerate in neutral cane spirit for 24 hours before distillation in a copper pot still. These botanicals include tea leaves, yuzu, green bitter orange peel, coriander, licorice, and angelica root in addition to juniper. Brought down to 43% ABV with water from the Taisetsu Mountains.
  • 6
    4.39 out of 5 stars
    Released in May 2017, the Ki No Tea expression by the Kyoto Distillery includes Tencha and Gyokuro leaves in its botanical list, in an attempt to bring out the deep, complex flavours of matcha green tea. The expression was created in collaboration with Horii Shichimeien, a tea-growing company founded in 1879, during the Meiji Era.
  • 5
    3.92 out of 5 stars
    Part of the Japanese gin movement, Kozue Gin is the first to use Japanese pine needles in its botanical list. Released by Wakayama's Fujishiro Distillery, with a small first batch of just 100 bottles domestically.
  • 4
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    This gin is produced in small batches at the Tsunuki distillery in Kagoshima, owned by Hombo Shuzo, which also owns the famed Mars Shinshu distillery. With the botanical list including yuzu, ginger, perilla, and green tea leaves, this expression is part of Japanese gin's global debut in 2017.
  • 3
    4.26 out of 5 stars
    Introduced in late 2016, with its international release delayed until 2017, is this dry-style gin from Japan's first dedicated gin distillery. Master Distiller Alex Davies of the Kyoto Distillery uses a spirit base distilled from rice and adds botanicals like yellow yuzu, hinoki (cypress) wood chips, bamboo, gyokuro tea, and green sanshō (Japanese peppercorn) berries that are designated into: base, citrus, tea, herbal, spice, and floral. Each botanical category is steeped into the rice spirit, which is then individually distilled before blending together. It is brought to proof using water from Fushimi, known for its purity. Ki No Bi translates to "the beauty of the seasons" and is bottled at 45.7% ABV.
  • 2
    4.31 out of 5 stars
    Nikka Coffey Gin uses a base of corn and malt distillate which were distilled in a Coffey Still as the name suggests. Japanese citrus such as yuzu, kabosu, amanatsu, and shikuwasa, along with sanshō pepper, and apples pair with traditional botanicals of juniper, angelica, coriander, and lemon peel in the production of this gin. Available in Japan beginning in late June 2017 with a wider release expected later that year.
  • 1
    4.15 out of 5 stars
    The first gin released by Suntory, the name "Roku" is Japanese for "Six" which refers to the six Japanese botanicals used. Sakura flower (cherry blossoms), sakura leaf (cherry leaf), sencha tea (green tea), Gyokuro tea (refined green tea), sanshō pepper, and yuzu are utilized along with eight other traditional gin botanicals. The gin is distilled using a selection of different pot stills. The label is printed with Japanese washi paper. Roku Gin was released in Japan in July 2017, and is available in the UK, Germany, and Australia. As of October 2018, Roku is available in the US.