Interview: Dekanta and the Rise of Japanese Gin
Japan is world renowned for it's high quality sake and whisky, but there's a new kid on the block vying for some attention. Japanese gin is on the rise, so who better to shed some light on the subject than dekanta, a company offering the world's largest online selection of rare and authentic Japanese spirits.
Founded in 2015 by Makiyo Masa, dekanta are now firmly established as the predominant online source of rare and high-end Japanese whisky, while stocking a wider selection of Japanese spirits and offering a taste of Japanese culture worldwide.
Japan is experiencing somewhat of a 'gin revolution'. Tell us a bit about the rise of gin's popularity in Japan
Well, firstly it's important to understand that gin was never a spirit consumed often in Japan. Go back 80 years and the big drinks consumed in Japan were port and whisky. As the years progressed, beer grew to be the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the country, followed by Nihonshu (sake).
In recent years, wine, gin, and other foreign spirits have been growing steadily in popularity throughout the country, as more cocktail and wine bars open up and the Japanese population shows a rising interest in Western culture.
There is also the aspect of health for the Japanese, as gin is seen globally as a low-calorie, “healthier” option when compared with other drinks. As the Japanese are very into living healthy, and take pride in the fact that their people live longer than any other race in the world, gin and tonics are a big hit, especially with young business women.
At the moment, there is a huge cocktail and mixology movement occurring in Japan, especially in Tokyo. As a result, one prime way gin is consumed is as the base of many tasty cocktails. High quality is key, and many upmarket Western gins are entering the Japanese market dynamically, as consumption rises. This is also the reason why the huge producers in Japan, Suntory and Nikka, are just getting involved in the craft gin movement.
For decades, global brands like Gordon’s, Bombay Sapphire, and Tanqueray have been readily available in the country, and small distilleries have attempted to create some gin mock-ups, but only now is gin really starting to attract a lot of attention, and take off domestically. If we take note of Japanese whisky and the universal boom that it’s experiencing presently, then the future looks bright for Japanese gins.
Tell us a bit about the Japanese gin you stock and what makes them unique
At the moment, all the gin we stock is produced and sold in Japan, and most of those products are currently only otherwise available in Japan. We’re here to help gin fans worldwide get their hands on these hard-to-find bottles! (The same goes for our huge collection of Japanese whisky)
The popular gins produced in Japan right now tend to use a selection of Japanese botanicals, as well as a handful that are used traditionally in gin production. Suntory’s exciting new ROKU (six) gin, is named so due to the six Japanese botanicals used in its distillation. These include cherry blossoms, cherry leaves, green tea, refined green tea, Japanese pepper and yuzu.
The Nikka Coffey Gin also includes several Japanese botanicals, and the Kyoto Distillery, which produces the Ki No Bi gin, prides itself in using ingredients local to Kyoto, Japan.
The Kyoto Distillery, which called itself Japan’s first craft gin distillery, uses an interesting distillation method, rarely used across the rest of the gin industry. They break down the botanicals used into six categories, namely the Base, Citrus, Tea, Herbal, Spice and Floral. The botanicals in each category are distilled separately, and then blended back together. The Kyoto Distillery team claim this method makes for a much smoother, distinctive gin.
These gins are certainly making an impact overseas – They’re unique production methods and interesting use of botanicals make them really stand apart from other gins on the market. Take recent press, for example, by Robb Report and Forbes
Where can people purchase them from?
The Suntory ROKU and Nikka Coffey gins won’t be distributed globally until later this year. However, as dekantā in based in Japan, we have had the gins available since they were released in Japan earlier this year. There's a selection of Japanese gins, whiskies and other spirits available on our website, for worldwide delivery, most of which can only otherwise be purchased in Japan. All bottles come with an authentic Japanese gift wrapping service available.
Head on over to dekanta.com for a chance to experience Japanese gin for yourselves. Have you tried it? Tell us what you think in the comments below.