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Review: Kokoro Gin Liqueurs

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Delicate and understated, Kokoro Gin Liqueurs are infused with wild-growing Japanese Sansho berries.

Head over to our competitions page until 18th of June for a chance to win three bottles of these Japanese-inspired gin liqueurs.


Kokoro Gin is produced in Britain but has the essence of Japan at the heart of its creation. Founder James Nicol, who lives in Edinburgh, has an uncle (Uncle Nic) who moved to Japan in the sixties and became a bit of a celebrity in his adopted country.

Uncle Nic bought land in the Japanese Afan Woodland, where he discovered wild-growing Sansho berries – commonly used in Japanese cuisine.  Their flavour is said to be particularly intense because of the deep snow in winter and the purity of the mountain air.

James Nicol describes the “Intense explosion of flavour, almost like an electric current over the tongue,” he experienced upon his first tasting.

These Sansho berries are sustainably picked from Uncle Nic’s woodland, frozen and sent to the UK where they form the heart of Kokoro Gin, alongside 8 other botanicals.


Alongside the all-important Sansho berries are:

  • Juniper
  • Coriander
  • Angelica
  • Sweet orange
  • Almond
  • Liquorice
  • Savory
  • Lemon peel



Unlike the Kokoro Gin, which has a frosted glass bottle, these 20cl liqueurs are beautifully packaged in clear bottles.

This allows the crystalline quality of the liqueur colours to shine through. Particularly striking is the vivid pink of the cherry blossom liqueur, which instantly transported us to Sakura season in Japan when the cherry blossoms simultaneously burst into bloom.

The exquisitely simple Japanese-style logo which is central to the bottle design symbolises the sound “ko ko ro” in the Hiragana phonetic alphabet.

It is offset by flowing brushstrokes which depict images of Japanese nature. Each design is in the same colour to match the respective liqueurs of each bottle.

The wooden-topped cork literally tops things off by resembling the stopper of an ancient bottle of sake. An incredible amount of elegance before the seal has been broken!


Serve with tonic (recommended Mediterranean), soda water, champagne or simply over ice.

I would like to recommend Sansho berries as a garnish but they are incredibly hard to get a hold of. Unless of course you live in Japan!


Of the three liqueurs the Cherry Blossom was the most understated. It offered subtle floral hints which accompanied the prominent juniper tang. The Yuzu and Ginger enticingly hinted at a zesty citrus flavour to come.

The most pungent and pleasing on the nose, however, was the Blueberry and Lemongrass liqueur. The fruity aroma was so strong and fresh that I didn’t hang around too long before excitedly pouring.


The Blueberry and Lemongrass did not disappoint. As the violet nectar touched my lips I discovered where the lemongrass had been hiding.

Missing from the initial ‘nose’, the zesty burst came to the fore on tasting – a most appealing combination, infused alongside the main body of blueberry.

There were no such surprises from the Cherry Blossom and the Yuzu and Ginger. Both remained elegant and understated as per the nosing. Not too sweet and therefore not quite as sippable neat as the Blueberry and Lemongrass.


You may be able to tell that the emerging favourite of the three is the Blueberry and Lemongrass. Mixing with Mediterranean tonic enhanced the flavours even further.

The tonic balanced the flavours, leaving a delicious, long-lingering fruity aftertaste. The Mediterranean tonic also improved the Cherry Blossom and brought out a hint of spice in the Yuzu and Ginger that wasn’t apparent when drinking neat.

I also tried mixing with lemonade but due to the understated and delicate nature of the flavours it was somewhat overpowering. The liqueur flavours were mostly lost in the sugary sweetness of the soft drink.

If you are a big lemonade mixer fan then we recommend the Blueberry and Lemongrass as the one to combine with if you have to. It had the strongest and sweetest taste and therefore best suited to mix with lemonade.


This is a gin with a unique story to compliment its unique flavours. Much like the Japanese culture that inspired it, the Kokoro Liqueurs are elegant, simplistic and refined.

Kokoro is a slower pace of gin, to be appreciated fully in every delicate sip. I highly recommend the change of pace offered by the Kokoro Gin Liqueurs.

You can pick up the Kokoro Gin Liqueur Gift Set (3 x 20cl) on their website for £36

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