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Japan’s Kyoto Distillery gives glimpse of first gin

The Kyoto Distillery, believed to be the first dedicated gin distillery in Japan, has revealed details of its inaugural product – rice spirit-based Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin.

Ki-No-Bi-gin
The Kyoto Distillery uses two stills of different sizes

Opened earlier this year by industry veterans Marcin Miller and David Croll under their new Number One Drinks Company Japan, Kyoto Distillery is also thought to be the only licensed distillery ever built in Kyoto.

Ki No Bi gin, created by head distiller Alex Davies with input from Japanese spirits specialist Masami Onishi, is said to have a “recognisable dry style but with a distinct Japanese accent”.

The gin has a rice spirit base and is bottled at 45.7% abv. The distilling team spent six months selecting the suppliers and botanicals, including yellow yuzu from the north of Kyoto Prefecture, hinoki wood chips (Japanese cypress), bamboo, gyokuro tea from the Uji region and green sanshō (Japanese peppercorn) berries.

Fushimi water will be used to reduce the gin to bottling strength.

“To create our gin, we will be mastering not only the science of distillation as others have done before, but also the age-old art of blending,” said Davies, who previously worked at the Chase and Cotswolds distilleries in the UK.

“We will break down the botanicals in our gin into six different categories: base, citrus, tea, herbal, spice and floral and will then distil these separately before blending them back together again.”

The Kyoto Distillery features two bespoke “hybrid” copper stills made by German manufacturer Christian Carl: a 140-litre still with an integrated botanical basket in the helmet and a 450-litre still with a swan neck, side-mounted botanical basket.

The distillery claims that this equipment allows it the “capacity and flexibility” to “treat each botanical and recipe individually”.

Ki No Bi’s bottle design has not yet been unveiled, but has been produced by specialist glass manufacturer Sakai Glass, based in Osaka, while a screen-print label has been created in collaboration with KIRA Karacho, a Kyoto-based karakami atelier dating back to 1624.

Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin will launch in Japan in October, following by select international markets. An RRP has not yet been confirmed.

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