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Japan’s first dedicated gin distillery goes global

Japan’s Kyoto Distillery, believed to be Japan’s first dedicated gin distillery, is launching its first gin internationally in key markets and selected travel retail.

Ki No Bi, which means ‘The Beauty of the Seasons’, was launched on the domestic market last year, using Japanese botanicals from Kyoto prefecture to create its dry style and was set to be launched internationally in 2016. But the company said that domestic demand had out-stripping supply, delaying the international launch.

It has now launched in Japan, UK, Austria, France, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and in selected travel retail markets.

The distillery was founded in November 2015 by Marcin Miller and David Croll, with former Chase and Cotswold distiller Alex Davies as head distiller. It was originally intended to start international sales last year, but the company .

Croll said there were many good gins on the market, but not all of them spoke about their place of origin. “We wanted to draw inspiration as well as ingredients from Kyoto to establish authentic, local roots,” he said.

Botanicals comprise juniper berry, orris root, Hinoki (Japanese cypress) chips, yuzu peel, lemon peel, Japanese peppercorn (green sanshō), kinome, ginger, bamboo leaf, Red shiso leaf and Gyokuro green tea from the Uji region.

Each of its six different categories – base, citrus, tea, herbal, spice and floral – steeped in rice spirit before being distilled individually.

Before setting up the distillery as part of new venture the Number One Drinks Company Japan, Miller and Croll specialised in importing Japanese spirits across the world.

It was named the most innovative spirits launch of 2016 by db’s sister publication, The Spirits Business.

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