Japan is well known for its whisky, but the tide is set to shift with more and more Japanese distilleries beginning to produce new gins with unique and new methods and botanicals that you’d be hard pressed to find in any of our regular European gins.
Enter Kyoto Distillery, which makes for Japan’s first - and only - dedicated gin distillery. Founded in 2015, the Kyoto-based distillery is already making a name for itself for its rice-based gin, the Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin, that comes with floral notes, evocative of shiso and bamboo leaf and its incredibly light, silky texture.
Kinobi prides itself as a "Kyoto Gin," with their use of local Kyoto ingredients such as gyokuro green tea and yuzu as botanicals, and the use of a rice spirit base and water from the famous sake-brewing district Fushimi, thought to be the first of its kind made in Japan.
The secret to its lightweight, silky texture lies in its unique and meticulous production process. Following the philosophy of the age-old art of konwa (creating harmony), the 11 botanicals, many sourced locally from farmers in Kyoto, are separated into six different flavour-led categories: base, citrus, tea, herbal, spice and fruity and floral, to be macerated and distilled separately, before blending them back together again.
What you get is a wonderful liquid that comes with heavy yuzu notes and juniper, complemented with green tea, for elements of sweetness, and sansho pepper and ginger root for a warming, spicy finish. It’s a great sipping gin that is neither overly heavy nor light, but pleasant and incredibly versatile that tastes just as delicious in classic cocktails and on the rocks.