Review: Roku Japanese Craft Gin / by Jason Hambrey

Roku Gin 1.jpg
Producer Suntory (Liquor Atelier, Osaka, Japan)

This gin is made from 8 traditional botanicals (juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, angelica seed, cardamom, cinnamon, lemon peel, bitter orange peel) to which 6 botanicals are added to highlight all the season in Japan - sakura cherry leaf and sakura cherry blossom for the sping, sencha and gyokuro tea for the summer, sansho pepper for the fall, and yuzu peel for the winter. As Suntory is apt to do, the bottle is 6 sided to denote these 6 core seasonal components.

Suntory first started making gin in 1936 with an old tom gin called "Hermes gin". This, however, is a very modern gin launched in 2017. The exported edition sits at 43%, while the Japanese domestic version sits at 47%.

Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2018

Juniper and lemon peel lie at the centre of a richly spicy nose. But it’s more than just baking spices – it is actually peppery with spicy notes. Coriander ties the citrus and the spice together, and it has some very nice high floral notes on the nose too. The palate starts off woody and spicy (nice coriander spice) before slowly heating up to peppercorn and chilli, with juniper and a drying tannic finish a bit like tea. The tea notes really develop on the finish – quite nice.

It is very well balanced – great floral top notes, great citrus, a nice array of spices and teas underneath, and light woodiness. Perhaps to convey more clearly: I’ve never had a gin (or spirit) which so delicately and appropriately linked floral, citrus, spicy, woody, and deep vegetal (i.e. tea) flavours together. The nose alone is worth significant effort – how often is that true for a gin? It’s the best gin I’ve tasted to date (to drink neat). Even better at higher ABV.

Assessment: Exceptional.