Suntory is one of the oldest distilleries in Japan. It has expanded its market to include non-alcoholic beverages in recent years, but the company is primarily known for its spirits. The distillery, based in Osaka, Japan, has been open since 1899 and is known for its high-quality spirits. Suntory was also one of the first distilleries in Japan to make Japanese Whisky, a style of whisky that is closer to Scotch whisky than American whiskey.
Suntory has expanded its market to include gin. The distillery has added its own unique twist to this traditional drink. Gin is Dutch in origin, from the original genever, but it gained most of its popularity in the UK. Now the Japanese have added their own botanicals to the mix.
The Meaning of Roku
Roku means ‘six’ in Japanese. The name was chosen to represent the six uniquely Japanese botanicals in the Roku Japanese Craft Gin. While Suntory names this gin specifically for the Japanese additions, they are not the only botanicals used in this gin.
Like all gin, Suntory makes Roku gin with juniper berries for flavour. Without juniper berries, a spirit cannot truly be called gin, and that’s a fact.
The Japanese additions are also each representative of a season. For spring, the gin includes sakura leaves and sakura flowers. Sakura trees are the traditional Japanese cherry blossom trees. For summer, the gin consists of sencha and gyokuro tea leaves, autumn is sansho peppers, and winter is represented by yuzu peel.
The addition of the six Japanese botanicals makes this gin light and gives it an almost fruity in flavour. The gin itself is very earthy and has a vegetal flavour to it.
On the nose, you are likely to notice both orange and lemon zest as well as coriander and cinnamon. On the tongue, the gin has a slight fruitiness to it and on the tail comes the pepper to finish it off.
What to Mix it With
Roku Japanese Craft Gin is best served with just a slice of fresh ginger root. The warmth of the ginger root helps to highlight the subtle Japanese botanicals and bring out the best flavours of the gin.
Roku Japanese Craft Gin is also great served neat over ice, in a traditional gin and tonic and in classic gin-based cocktails like a martini.
If you want to use a mixer, consider using something untraditional. Since Roku is a uniquely Japanese gin, consider mixing it with Japanese sodas that you can order online. Since there are some difficulty and delay in getting Japanese sodas delivered, it is unlikely that this is going to become your new regular drink, but it is well worth trying. Melon sodas are quite popular, and the melon sweetness can really bring out the flavours of this excellent gin.
Roku Japanese Craft Gin is the first gin release by the Suntory distillery in Japan. While it does contain most of the botanicals traditionally used in gin, Roku is uniquely Japanese. This is because of the addition of six Japanese botanicals to give the gin its flavour. For the etymologist in the audience, Roku is the Japanese word for six.
Roku is currently available in Europe, Asia, and Japan. If you live in the Americas or Australia, you have to wait, or take a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun and get a bottle from the source. However, as the popularity increases, we’re sure this gin will be available around the globe in the coming years.