Japan’s old capital, Kyoto is known as the polar opposite of bustling Tokyo. Instead of blinding neon lights, the city gets dark after sunset due to laws that restrict brightly-lit advertising of any sort. Geishas can be seen in full attire and makeup as Japan’s old ways are still very much alive here.
So, it’s only apt that a gin made in this area would be enshrouded in Japanese tradition and native ingredients like cave-aged ginger (we’ll get to that in a while).
Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin by The Kyoto Distillery is probably the second most well-known boutique gin from Japan after Roku Gin. However, the distillery is the country’s first to be fully-dedicated gin production.
Ki No Bi means ‘beauty of seasons’, and from its name you can tell that this gin is made from a variety of rare botanicals instead of just throwing in some green tea like more dubious Japanese gins do.
Amongst the 11 ingredients which includes yuzu, sansho pepper, hinoki wood chips, bamboo leaves, red perilla, juniper berries and orris, the highlight has to be the cave-aged ginger.
Used together with pepper tree buds to give the gin its spiciness, the gingers are left to matured in a cave near the distillery. They add a mellow and round flavour to the gin that is quite unique to the palate.
At 45.7% AVB, Ki No Bi goes well with tonic or can be enjoyed on its own with some ice as a sipping gin. Its pure floral and citrus taste is complimented by the sweetness of green tea and hand picked juniper berries.
As a gin and tonic, Ki No Bi gives a smooth start and a sharp finish like it should. We would describe it as a gin that is not too complex yet distinctively Japanese in the best way possible.
This easy-to-drink gin was originally released in small batches in 2016 but made waves during its officially debut a year later. Ki No Bi gin has since then won over critics and took the Gold Medal at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) 2017.
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