Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either. But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now. And increasingly, they are just variations on a theme. Some of them are just added flavours. Others barely stand out from each other. And then along came UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin.
One sip and I was taken.
A beautiful bottle for a beautiful gin
And what was so special about Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin?
Well where do I even start? The bottle is an absolute stunner. A classic rounded shape with a graduated tinted glass where the colours of blue and pink blend into each other in the same way that mountains blend into the sea. This gin is elegantly Japanese and subtly understated. The label is a simple, square with rounded edges and Japanese lettering spelling out its name. The neck tapers up gently, like the slopes of the nearby Sakurajima volcano and the whole affair is crowned with a gorgeous, chunky flat cap that sets it off beautifully. Before you’ve even tasted the first sip, you know this is a gin with a difference.
“Floating world” gin for the mindfulness generation
We also love the story behind Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin. The term ukiyo literally translates in English to “floating world” and it refers to “a state of mind that emphasises living in the moment, detached from the difficulties of life”. This is a gin worth concentrating on. It will feed your senses. It’s sort of like a gin for the mindfulness generation.
So, what’s so special about it?
So much. This is not your normal gin. In fact, this is a gin that all starts with Japan’s national drink, Shochu. This traditional Japanese spirit is distilled from barley and these guys have been practicing their art for more than 130 years. They have drawn on all that knowledge and experience to distill this Shochu base from scratch. First, they distill the barley in a traditional Japanese pot still, which produces a gentler, more rounded flavour.
The fragrant, complex aroma of cherry blossom
They then redistill the mix with juniper, mandarin and spices before infusing it with the bright, citrus notes of yuzu and the subtle perfume of the sakura flower. The final blend offers up a soft, smooth mouth-feel, making this gin very easy to drink. The Shochu adds a subtle, earthy flavour to the final product, that’s reminiscent of its more famous cousin Sake. This fragrant base is then redistilled with the required juniper, alongside mandarin and spice. For the final touch, they infuse the gin with the delicate taste of Sakura flower, resulting in a perfumed, fragrant citrus-forward gin to delight your senses.
And on the nose? Boy, do those aromas tickle your taste buds. Even before you take your first sip, your senses will be assaulted by a sweet, fragrant complex aroma that mimics the gentle scent of the cherry blossoms adorning the beautiful mountains that surround their beautiful Kagoshima base. And at a standard 40% ABV, this gin has just the right blend of strength and flavour.
So, what does it taste like? Well, on the nose it is sweet and complex. There is a fragrance that comes from the Shochu that delivers a perfume punch alongside the fresh, complex flavors of juniper, cherry blossom and orange. And there (f you look hard enough) lurking in the background, you’ll pick up more subtle notes such as woody spice, coriander and even a little Parma violet.
Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin perfect pour:
This gin is too unusual and has too many contrasting taste sensations to waste on a flavoured tonic water. This is one for a premium Fever Tree Indian tonic, large, square cubes of ice and a slice of orange. Best served in a Collins glass, you’ll need to drop a large, square ice cube (the larger the better) into the bottom of the glass. Then, take a wedge of orange, squeeze it to release the juice and wipe it around the rim of the glass. Pour a generous shot of the gin over the ice cube. Then pour a premium quality tonic water such as Fever Tree premium into the mix allowing the bubbles to blend the liquids together naturally. Finally, a brief stir and then drop a sliced orange wheel on top and you’re “good to go”. A delicious, G&T just bursting with bright flavour!
But if you’re looking to try this in a cocktail, here’s one you might like to try…
Ukiyo Cherry Cobbler
- 40ml Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin
- 10ml cherry brandy
- 10 ml blackcurrant syrup
- 10ml lemon juice
- 10ml blackcurrant liqueur
- 190ml ice
- 20ml soda
- Add ice to a 10oz (300ml) highball glass
- Pour gin into glass
- Add cherry brandy
- Add blackcurrant syrup
- Pour in lemon juice
- Top up with a dash of soda water
- Pour a Creme de Cassis float onto the surface
- Garnish with a Maraschino cherry
- Just sit back and enjoy the blossoms…
Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)
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