Japan’s Hokkaido opens first gin distillery

Hokkaido’s first gin distillery has opened in Sapporo with the launch of a new gin distilled with ‘local specialties’ including the prefecture’s famous kelp, Japanese shiitake mushrooms and dried daikon radish, giving the spirit a “unique umami flavour”.

The gin was produced by the Benizakura Distillery and launched by the Hokkaido Liberty Whisky Inc. The distillery originally intended to produce whisky, but given the time required to produce it,  it turned to gin instead, reported Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun.

“We’ve produced gin with outstanding originality and character, thanks to the variety of umami flavours [from local ingredients],” said Akiyuki Koshikawa, who oversaw the distillery production. “I recommend enjoying this straight or on the rocks.”

Named “9148”, a 700ml bottle of the gin sells for 4860 Japanese yen (US$44).

The trend of craft gin has spread from Europe to Japan, where distilleries including Suntory, Nikka, and Kyoto Distillery are releasing craft gins distilled with local flavours such as Yuzu, cherry blossom, Matcha tea.

Suntory’s ‘Roku Gin’ has incorporated six different botanicals including cherry blossom, Gyokuro and sansho, and Kyoto Distillery also created ‘Ki No Bi’ Kyoto Dry Gin, which is flavoured with 11 botanicals, including green tea and yuzu.

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