Kyoto Distillery unveils Japan’s first gin

Japan’s first gin distillery has been granted a production licence, with the company confirming that its innagural release will be a rice-based gin called Ki No Bi.

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The distillery has had two copper stills; a 140-litre still with an integrated botanical basket in the helmet and a 450-litre still with a swan neck, side-mounted botanical basket.

The Kyoto Distillery’s first release, Ki No Bi (“The Beauty of the Seasons”) will be distilled, blended and bottled in Kyoto and made in a recognisable dry style but with a “Japanese accent”.

Using a rice spirit base, the team spent six months to source and select the best botanicals from across the country with the help of Japanese spirits industry “legend” Masami Onishi.

Botanicals include yellow yuzu from the north of Kyoto Prefecture, hinoki wood chips (Japanese cypress), bamboo, gyokuro tea from the Uji region and green sanshō (Japanese peppercorn) berries.

Fushimi water, famed for its purity, will be used to reduce the gin to bottling strength, with the final spirit bottled at 45.7%.

“To create our gin, we will be mastering not only the science of distillation as others have done before, but also the age-old art of blending”, said Alex Davies, head distiller.

“We will break down the botanicals in our gin into six different categories: Base, Citrus, Tea, Herbal, Spice and Floral and will then distil these separately before blending them back together again.”

The Kyoto Distillery was founded in 2015 and is owned by the Number One Drinks Company – a UK-based company founded by David Croll and gin producer Marcin Miller. Croll has lived in Japan for more than 20 years and for the last 10 of those has worked with Miller exporting Japanese whiskies all over the world.

“We have worked hard to make a delicious dry gin, from local botanicals where possible, which does justice to the culture of craftsmanship for which Kyoto has been famed for over a thousand years”, said Croll. “If we succeed in this objective, I am confident gin enthusiasts around the world will enjoy Ki No Bi.”

Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin will be launched in Japan in October 2016 and other select markets thereafter.

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Alex Davies, former distiller at Chase and Cotswold distilleries, is head distiller at The Kyoto Distillery

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