5 Best Japanese Gin: Top 5 Brands for Connoisseurs in 2024

5 Best Japanese Gin: Top 5 Brands for Connoisseurs in 2024

30 April 2024Rasmiya Assadi

Discover the exquisite world of Japanese gin with our selection of the top 5 brands for connoisseurs in 2024. 

From traditional botanicals to innovative flavors, these gins showcase the best of Japan's distilling artistry. Join us on a journey through the rich heritage and exceptional quality of Japanese gin.

Among the plethora of Japanese gins available, some stand out for their exceptional quality and taste. 

Our introduction will guide you through the journey of Japan's most incredible gins, revealing the flavors and unique ingredients that make them so coveted among gin enthusiasts. 

From the Ki No Bi Kyoto Gin by the Kyoto distillery to the Etsu Japanese Gin, these spirits are a testament to Japan's mastery of the craft.

Key Takeaways

  • Japanese gins have gained popularity due to their unique flavors and rice-based spirit foundations.
  • The country's gin production began in 2016 and has since developed an array of exceptional offerings.
  • Some notable examples include Kyoto distillery's Ki No Bi Kyoto Gin and the Etsu Japanese Gin.

Top Japanese Gin

Roku Japanese Gin

Roku Japanese Gin is a unique and flavorful creation, thanks to its six botanical ingredients that include Gyokuro tea, Sansho pepper, yuzu, sencha, sakura flowers, and leaves. 

Each one is carefully harvested during peak seasons to ensure the highest quality and flavor. Produced by the renowned Suntory brand, this gin offers a delightful sweet and floral aroma, with a crisp, spicy-citrusy finish.

The beautiful hexagonal-shaped glass bottle features the six botanical elements used in its creation etched on every side. 

Furthermore, the simple label is made from washi paper, adding a touch of Japanese authenticity to its presentation. With a 47% ABV in Japan and 43% ABV outside of Japan, Roku is a testament to Japan's incredible gin offerings. '

Best enjoyed at room temperature with ice, there's no need for a mixer or tonic water in order to fully appreciate the depth and complexity of this fine spirit.

It's available on Amazon Japan


Nikka Coffey Gin

When it comes to Japanese gin, one of the top choices is Nikka Coffey Gin. As a gin enthusiast, I appreciate its unique characteristics and flavor profile. 

This gin is produced using the same "Coffey" still that Nikka uses for its signature whiskey, which adds a distinct touch to this Japanese gin.

One of the main features that sets Nikka Coffey Gin apart from other gins is its extensive use of citrus. It includes ingredients like yuzu, kabosu, amanatsu, shequasar, angelica, coriander, lemon, and orange peel. With a 47% ABV, it offers a robust and smooth flavor profile.

Here are some highlights of Nikka Coffey Gin:

  • Limited production: This gin has a limited production of only 12,000 bottles, which makes it a rare find for gin aficionados.
  • Perfect for cocktails: Nikka Coffey Gin works well both neat or with an ice cube, as well as in sophisticated cocktails like the French 75, Dry Martini, and Gimlet, as the gin's citrusy and herbal notes complement the drink's flavors.
  • Ideal serving suggestions: A recommended serving suggestion is 50 ml Nikka Coffey Gin with 75 ml grapefruit juice, and 50 ml yuzu tonic water over ice, garnished with a salted rim and grapefruit slice as mentioned in Drinks Geek.

So, if you're a gin fan looking for a distinct and flavorful Japanese option, try Nikka Coffey Gin and experience the unique taste it has to offer.

It's available on Amazon Japan


Ki No Bi Kyoto Gin from the Kyoto Distillery

As someone who takes a keen interest in the world of spirits and specifically Japanese gin, I have come across a variety of brands. One of the best Japanese gins is the Ki No Bi Kyoto Gin by Kyoto Distillery. 

The Kyoto Distillery is an artisanal distillery that combines tradition with contemporary craftsmanship to produce a gin with a truly Japanese heart.

Ki No Bi Kyoto Gin is created using high-quality rice spirits and a plethora of local botanicals. Some of the most notable ingredients are:

  • Yuzu: a unique citrus fruit with a fragrant aroma, adding a refreshing zest to the gin.
  • Sanshō pepper: this indigenous Japanese pepper provides a slight spiciness, contributing to the gin's distinct character.
  • Ginger: adds a layer of warmth and complexity to the overall flavor profile.
  • Gyokuro Tea: a premium shaded Japanese green tea that provides a subtle, umami-rich undertone to the gin.

With these ingredients, the Kyoto Distillery has managed to produce a gin that is not only delicious but also showcases the flavors and spirit of Japan. 

The taste and aroma of Ki No Bi Kyoto Gin transport you to the serene mountains and bamboo forests of Kyoto.

In my experience, it also works incredibly well in cocktails. With its unique flavor profile, it adds a distinct taste that sets your cocktail apart. 

If you are looking to explore the world of Japanese gin, I highly recommend Ki No Bi Kyoto Gin as a starting point.

It's available on Amazon Japan

Yaso 123

When exploring the world of Japanese gins, I came across a fascinating gin called Yaso 123 that captured my attention. 

Yaso 123 is produced in the Niigata region of Japan, a place known for its clean water, crisp air, and cold winters. 

The quality of this gin is reflected in the pristine environment it comes from. Interestingly, Yaso 123 is made from 123 different Niigata botanicals that contribute to its unique flavor profile.

Here are a few key aspects of Yaso 123 that stand out:

  • Region: Niigata, Japan
  • Unique botanicals: 123 different Niigata botanicals
  • Environment: Clean water, crisp air, and cold winters

The combination of these factors makes Yaso 123 a noteworthy contender in the realm of the best Japanese gins. 

The diverse botanicals used in the production of this gin give it a distinct taste and character, making it a must-try for gin enthusiasts.

Sakurao Japanese Dry Gin Limited

When it comes to the finest Japanese gin, one brand that I can confidently recommend is the Sakurao Japanese Dry Gin Limited Edition. 

Produced by the Sakurao Distillery in Hiroshima, this gin is made with 17 locally sourced botanicals, combining both land and sea ingredients.

Some of the unique botanicals used in this premium gin include:

  • Japanese juniper berries: Known for their distinct aroma and flavor
  • Oyster shells: Providing a subtle maritime note
  • Wasabi: Adding a hint of spice
  • Hinoki: A type of Japanese cypress, enhancing the overall freshness

It's available on Amazon Japan

Sakurao Original Gin

As an enthusiast of Japanese gins, I have come across a number of high-quality options. One of my personal favorites is the Sakurao Original Gin, produced by the Sakurao Distillery. 

Founded in 2018 on the 100-year anniversary of Chugoku Jozo, a well-established Japanese sake brewery, the distillery has demonstrated expertise in crafting truly unique gin.

Sakurao Original Gin is known for its remarkable combination of local botanicals, which gives it a distinct flavor profile. Some of the key ingredients include:

  • Citrus fruits: Aromatic lemon and fragrant yuzu are prominent in this gin.
  • Japanese cypress: This adds an earthy tone with a hint of woody scent.
  • Oyster shells: Sourced from Hiroshima, these contribute a subtle saline note.

In conclusion, the Sakurao Original Gin showcases Japanese craftsmanship and the delightful use of native botanicals, making it stand out among other Japanese gins. I highly recommend giving it a try if you're looking to expand your gin experiences.

You can get it now on Amazon Japan

135 East Hyogo Dry Japanese Gin

I recently came across an exquisite Japanese gin called 135 East Hyogo Dry Gin. This gin, produced by the Kaikyo Distillery, manages to strike a delicate balance between classic London Dry and unique Japanese elements. 

There is a delightful combination of traditional gin botanicals and Japanese ingredients such as yuzu peel, grapefruit, mandarin orange, and sansho pepper2.

Here are its key features:

  • Origin: Kaikyo Distillery, Japan
  • Style: Hybrid (London Dry & Japanese Gin)
  • Notable Botanicals:
    • Juniper
    • Yuzu peel
    • Grapefruit
    • Mandarin orange
    • Sansho pepper
  • Price: around $30

What sets the 135 East Hyogo Dry Gin apart is its distinctive flavor profile. The citrus notes, primarily derived from mandarin and grapefruit, perfectly complement the earthy warmth of the sansho pepper.

When I tried the gin, some of the factors that impressed me included:

  • Aromatic nose with hints of citrus and sansho pepper4
  • A well-rounded, faintly herbaceous palate
  • A lingering finish with a pink-peppercorn zing5

I believe the 135 East Hyogo Dry Gin is an excellent choice for those looking to explore authentically crafted Japanese gins. As it fuses classic gin characteristics with Japanese botanicals seamlessly, it can be enjoyed both neat or as part of a flavorful cocktail.

Masahiro Okinawa

When discussing the best Japanese gins, I can't help but mention Masahiro Okinawa Gin. This gin is unique in that it is distilled using a combination of Japanese and Dutch techniques.

The result is a distinctive and delicious gin that transports you to the tropical islands of Japan.

I find the use of locally sourced botanicals in Masahiro Okinawa Gin truly fascinating. 

Among the ingredients are guava leaves, long pepper, goya (a type of melon), and hibiscus. These flavors intertwine to create a gin that stands out from the rest.

To enjoy Masahiro Okinawa Gin to its fullest, I recommend serving it with tonic water over ice. Garnish with a lemon zest to bring out the tropical botanicals. I trust that you'll find this gin as delightful and transportive as I do.

Etsu Japanese Gin

When it comes to the best Japanese gins, one cannot ignore the remarkable quality of Etsu Japanese Gin. 

Produced on the island of Hokkaido at the Asahikawa distillery, Etsu Gin is known for its unique and authentic flavor profile.

Etsu Gin goes through a meticulous production process, including charcoal filtering and dilution with water sourced from the Taisetsu Mountains. This results in a gin with peak purity and a clean taste. 

With a range of four authentic Japanese gins, Etsu is an ode to the art of gin-making and the pleasure of sharing it with others.

The key factor that sets Etsu Gin apart from its counterparts is its botanicals. It proudly incorporates traditional Japanese ingredients such as:

  • Yuzu
  • Green Tea Leaves
  • Cherry Blossoms
  • Sancho Pepper

Out of these ingredients, Yuzu holds the dominant position, providing a distinct tartness to the gin that can be balanced with a sprig of mint when served neat over ice. Yet, Etsu Gin is versatile and can be enjoyed in various cocktails and mixtures. 

For example, you can prepare a refreshing drink with 50ml Etsu Gin, 1/2 bar spoon Matcha, 10ml lemon juice, and 15ml samurai sake.

As someone who appreciates quality gin, I find Etsu Gin to be an exceptional example of Japanese craftsmanship in the spirits industry. Its balanced flavors infuse traditional Japanese elements with a contemporary touch, making it an unforgettable experience for gin lovers.

Ki No Tea Dry Gin

As a gin enthusiast, I find Ki No Tea Dry Gin to be a standout choice among Japanese gins.

This distinctive gin, made at the Kyoto Distillery, is a collaborative effort with Hori-Shichimeien, a tea-grower and blender rooted in the Uji region since the Meiji era in 1879.

What makes Ki No Tea Dry Gin special, is its exceptional blend of botanicals, which includes:

  • Tencha and Gyokuro Green teas: Known for their high quality, these Uji region-grown teas provide the core flavor for Ki No Tea Dry Gin.
  • Yuzu: This citrus fruit, native to Japan, adds a subtle yet refreshing tanginess.
  • Akamatsu: These Japanese red pine wood chips contribute a unique woody element to the mix.

Thanks to expert reviews and tasting notes, I can vouch for the flavorful profile of Ki No Tea. 

Its combination of carefully selected botanicals results in a delightful interplay of tea, citrus, and wood, making it an excellent choice for those seeking the best Japanese gin.

Check it out on Amazon Japan

Which botanicals are frequently found in Japanese gin?

Japanese gin is known for its unique and region-specific botanicals. Some common ingredients include yuzu, shiso, sansho (Japanese pepper), cherry blossom, and green tea. Regional botanicals are often incorporated to highlight the flavors of different areas in Japan.

Which Japanese gin would I recommend for a classic gin and tonic?

For a classic gin and tonic with a Japanese twist, I would recommend using Suntory Roku Gin. Its citrus-forward flavor and combination of traditional Japanese botanicals make it an excellent choice for this popular cocktail.

In what ways does Japanese gin stand apart from traditional London dry gin?

Japanese gin differs from traditional London dry gin in various aspects. Key differences include the incorporation of unique, region-specific botanicals, and a focus on local ingredients. Japanese gin often exhibits more delicate and nuanced flavors compared to the bold, juniper-forward taste of London dry gin.

Can I mention some premium Japanese gins worth trying?

Certainly! If you're looking to try premium Japanese gins, here are a few options:

  • Etsu Japanese Gin: produced in Hokkaido, known for its peak purity and clean taste.
  • Sakurao Original Japanese Dry Gin: produced in Hiroshima, made with local botanicals, and features local citrus ingredients.
  • KI NO BI Kyoto Dry Gin: Japan's first artisanal gin, known for its innovation and use of local ingredients.

What are some unique Japanese gin cocktails that showcase the spirit's distinctiveness?

Japanese gin's unique flavors can be highlighted in various cocktails. For example, the Samurai Negroni is a twist on the classic Negroni, featuring Japanese gin, sake, and umeshu (plum wine). 

Another option is to create a refreshing Yuzu Collins by combining Japanese gin, yuzu juice, and soda water. These cocktails showcase the versatility and distinctiveness of Japanese gin.

More articles

Commentaires (0)

Il n'y a pas de commentaires pour cet article. Soyez le premier à laisser un message !

Écrire un commentaire

Veuillez noter que les commentaires doivent être approuvés avant d'être publiés.