The first gin from Japan’s legendary Suntory – Roku Gin. This expression is made using a selection of botanicals, including six Japanese botanicals that provide a whistle-stop tour of the four seasons. These include sakura leaf and sakura flower for spring, sencha tea and gyokuro tea for summer, sansho pepper for autumn and yuzu peel for winter. Traditional gin botanicals also featured include the likes of juniper, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander and cinnamon, among others.
Roku’s bold and strikingly bitter profile does make it a challenging mixing gin. I found it to be unusual in traditional applications like the Gin and Tonic (challenging, intellectual, and less refreshing than expected), the Gimlet (the bitterness countered the cloying of the lime, but the finish didn’t work for me), and the Ramos Gin Fizz (it’s so acerbic, that I’m not sure Roku Gin is ever well suited for a dessert style gin cocktail).
As a gin on its own, I found it good to be enjoyed Neat. It worked as well in the quintessential high-end-gin-bar use. I mean of course, the Martini. The bitterness almost simulated the inclusion of Vermouth already. You can go super dry with Roku and still have a Martini that hits the expected notes. Finally, I also thought it made a good Negroni.
A complex Japanese gin with refreshing yuzu citrus top notes and a spicy shansho pepper twist. Roku means ‘six’ in Japanese and refers to the six local, seasonal botanicals which complement eight traditional gin botanicals (juniper berries, coriander, lemon peel, etc) and give this spirit a distinctly Japanese character. The Japanese botanicals are: sakura flower (cherry blossom), sakura leaf, sencha tea, gyokuro tea, sansho pepper and yuzu peel. Try serving this in a gin and tonic with a ginger garnish, which accentuates the citrus notes.