Last year will be known as the year of Japanese gin when the category really boomed and Japan’s largest whisky makers, Suntory and Nikka, entered the scene with their very own craft gin expressions featuring local botanical-heavy recipes.
The category hasn’t stopped moving forward since, as small producers all around Japan continue to release new gins, bound by the place surrounding each distillery. To date, we’ve seen gins from Okinawa featuring goya, Okinawan bitter melon, in its botanical list. A Gin from Kagoshima is bursting with sweet mandarin notes from the use of komikan, mini mikans from Kagoshima. Japanese pine needles, pepper, fruits, and many other ingredients have appeared in Japanese gin recipes, all to make their expressions shine in the building, competitive market.
Now, these new, small distillers are starting to shine abroad as the world takes notice of the innovation taking place in Japan. Here’s the most recent award given to an amazing Japanese gin.
Sakurao Original – Best Of Gin
The Sakurao distillery in Hiroshima makes one of the top gins in the category, heavily influenced by local ingredients to Hiroshima. Their Limited gin, in particular, is very unique and complex, and even features Hiroshima oyster shells in its recipe. But this article is about the wonderful Sakurao Original and its recent award at a respected international spirits competition.
The Los Angeles International Spirits Competition has been going strong since 2007, awarding spirits blind-tasted by a panel of experienced judges. Fairplex, the company behind the competition, also runs a similarly popular wine competition. This year saw over 400 entries made by more than 140 producers from all around the world. Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards are given to spirits, however, the Best in Division category only awards the spirits with the very highest scores. This year judging took place on May 8-9.
Winning over gins from England, Scotland, Australia, and many other countries, the Sakurao Original gin scored a huge 93 points, making it the leader of the gin category at this year’s competition. This was a truly amazing win for the Sakurao distillery and a great confidence boost for their future projects. Speaking to the president at the distillery just last month, it’s clear that the team have some very exciting spirits coming up and have recently filled several casks with whisky. They will soon be travelling to the US to select bourbon casks to use for maturation.
The Sakurao Original gin features 9 botanicals local to Hiroshima, including ginger, yuzu, orange, and green tea. Sweet and sour citrus notes are evident on the nose, as ginger and green tea join the palate for a stellar balance. Great straight, and in a gin and tonic, the Sakurao Original is a great, affordable gin from Japan.
We’re hoping this prestigious award is the first of many for the distillery, and we’re beyond excited to see what the team releases in the near future.