Marcin Miller to open ‘first’ Japanese gin distilleryBy Melita Kiely
Marcin Miller and David Croll have founded the Number One Drinks Company Japan and are readying to build an artisan gin distillery, believed to be the country’s first.
Set to open in early 2016, The Kyoto Distillery has enlisted the expertise of Alex Davies – former distiller at Chase and Cotswold distilleries – to take on the role of head distiller.
“Our plan is simply to make the finest gin possible with a focus on Japanese botanicals,” said Croll, who has lived in Japan for more than 20 years. “We realise that there are plenty of new entrants in the gin category but are confident that, by offering an exceptional spirit with a genuine point of difference we will attract discerning consumers.
“Our initial emphasis will be on engaging with the Japanese bartending community and, thereafter, exporting to a small number of markets on allocation only.”
Croll and Miller have worked together for the past 10 years exporting Japanese whiskies from across the globe.
“The gin category remains dynamic but we are entering a period of natural selection where quality and a genuine backstory of craft and location is becoming increasingly important,” added Miller.
“David and I have extensive experience with Japanese drinks and our head distiller is hugely enthusiastic about the opportunities offered by the fruit and spices of Kyoto.”
Number One Drinks Company Japan has already purchased premises and ordered stills from CARL.
Head distiller Davies will be supported by a recently appointed assistant distiller who boasts more than 20 years’ experience in the drinks industry, including whisky distillation in Scotland.
The pair will be joined by a “highly respected” Japanese former master distiller who will take on a consultant post with the firm.
“It had to be an amazing offer to lure me away from my last position but I figured this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Davies. “Kyoto is famed for its cuisine, has an abundance of fruit unique to the area and is the cradle of Japanese craft, from sake brewing to kimono weaving, woodblock printing, ceramics and lacquer work.
“I have stacks of ideas already and can’t wait to start distilling in the most inspiring and forward-thinking city I’ve ever visited.”