4 Japanese gins we think you have got to try

If you haven’t sampled Japanese gins, or Japanese inspired gins, then hopefully our list helps you finally take the plunge and taste some of these superb alternative gins.

As the gin industry continues to grow globally, Japanese distillers have entered into the gin arena in a big way, bringing some unique and interesting offerings to the gin table – all distilled and produced with a very “Japanese” approach.

In 2016, the Kyoto distillery was the first to develop Japan’s first artisanal gin – the Ki No Bi. This gin incorporated locally sourced ingredients surrounding the Kyoto region, and in a non-traditional method of production, featuring a process of distilling botanicals separately before blending them together, created an award winning gin.

The Ki No Bi gin was different and widely successful, leading to more distilleries from the land of the rising sun entering into the market in 2017.

Distillers Suntory, Nikka, Kozue and Mashiro developed their own craft gins – featuring stunning botanical ingredients such as yuza, sakura blossoms, green tea, sansho pepper, pine needles and bitter melon.

Much like a lot of features from everyday life, Japanese culture reinvents, simplifies and then produces a different version of that same feature the world simply cannot live without.

Here are four of the best Japanese craft gins currently on offer and that we recommend you taste.


Roku – meaning “six” in Japanese – gin blends six non-traditional gin ingredients with eight familiar ones to create an outstanding original gin taste.

Juniper berries coriander, angelica root, angelica seed, cardamon, cinnamon, bitter orange and lemon peel are combined with Cherry Blossoms and leaves, yazu, sansho, pepper and a variety of teas.

This signature drink is best served with ice, tonic and six slithers of fresh ginger.

£30, Waitrose

Nikka Coffey Gin

Nikka Coffey Gin, produced by the popular whiskey manufacturer, Nikki – in their Miyagikyo distillery – blends 11 traditional and interesting botanicals to create a complex bright and zesty flavour.

Coffey Gin features ingredients like amanatsu, yuzu and sansho pepper from Japan, alongside coriander, citrus peels and apple juice to produce a unique gin taste.

Try it in a Negroni to let your senses run wild.

£44.95, The Whisky Exchange

Sakurao Limited

This craft gin has 9 botanicals, including fresh citrus from Hiroshima, and is distilled using a combination of steeping and vapor methods.

The fusion of a citrus-like aroma with the traditional taste of gin is the most distinctive feature of this original gin concept.

£45, Crafty Connoisseur

Ki No Bi

Ki No Bi gin is the OG of Japanese gins.

Produced by The Kyoto distillery, Ki No Bi, which translates to “Beauty of the Seasons” is made using a rice spirit base and a non-traditional distilling process which blends a selection of locally sourced botanicals.

Yuzu, hinoki wood chips, bamboo leaves, green sansho and gyokuro tea, along with typical gin ingredients, are split into six flavour groups (Base, Citrus, Tea, Spice, Fruity & Floral and Herbal), and each is distilled individually before being blended together to create the gin.

A very technical and different approach to distilling gin.

£46.25, Amazon

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Alex McLeman