Unique blend of botanicals includes seaweed, tea, wasabi, and Japanese cedar, as a nod to the wood used in red shrine gates.

Japan is surprisingly well-placed to emerge as a leading force in the gin world, where regional specialties from the country’s 47 prefectures, often used in sweets and local delicacies, have now found a place to shine in the drinks industry.

As a result, Japanese gin is currently experiencing a boom in popularity both locally and internationally, encouraging a number of long-established breweries to begin producing craft gins of their own.

One brewery showcasing the pride of their region is Saga Prefecture’s Mitsutake — a sake brewery founded in 1688 — who’s now branched out into gin production with Aka Torii, which uses locally sourced oyster shells and seaweed as the star botanicals.

Take a look at the brewery’s beautiful introduction to the new product below:

Aka Torii (literally “Red Torii Gate”) takes its name from the famous red torii gate in the brewery’s hometown of Kashima City. Sadly, the gate was demolished in 2007 due to wear and tear, but it still lives on in the minds of locals as a proud symbol of the area.

▼ The red torii originally sat at the approach to Yutoku Inari Shrine, one of the town’s most revered sites.

Mitsutake is located in Kashima City’s Hamamachi, where sake breweries have been active since the Edo period (1603-1868). Today, a number of sake breweries, including Mitsutake, are beautifully preserved along a street called “Sakagura Dori” (“Sake Brewery Street“).

▼ Mitsutake (pictured bottom right).

Mitsutake’s company philosophy is “innovation from tradition“, which has led them to release some eye-catching products, like these tie-ups with big manga franchises.

▼ Mitsutake’s Devilman and Cutie Honey umeshu (plum wine).

While Mitsutake has previously branched out into plum wine production, Aka Torii is the first craft gin to be produced by the centuries-old brewery. Using natural water from the Mt Tara mountain range connecting Saga and neighbouring Nagasaki, which has a mellowness that’s been indispensable for sake-making, Mitsutake has produced two types of gin for this new release.

The Aka Torii Original (45-percent alcohol) contains the following five botanicals: Juniper Berry, Lemon Peel, Orange Peel, Japanese Cedar, Japanese Tea

The inclusion of cedar is a nice nod to the torii gate and shrine buildings, which are made from Japanese cedar wood. This combination of botanicals is said to give the gin a refreshing fruit aroma with herbaceous undertones for a “mysterious and subtle sweetness and finish”.

▼ The Aka Torii Original comes with an original Mitsutake wood charm.

The Aka Torii Premium (45-percent alcohol) contains the following 11 botanicals: Juniper berry, lemon peel, orange peel, cedar tree, Japanese tea, Japanese pepper, seaweed, oyster shell, wasabi leaf, cinnamon, vanilla beans.

The Japanese pepper, seaweed, oyster shell, and wasabi leaf are said to impart the essence of Japanese “wa” (“harmony”) into the gin, with Mitsutake saying they worked hard to perfect the proportions through a long and vigorous testing process.

Aka Torii is said to impart the charm of Saga and Japanese “wa” with every sip of the gin. Both varieties go on sale online from 8 September, with the Original retailing for 1,980 yen (US$18.63) and the Premium retailing for 4,840 yen.

If you’re looking for another very Japanese tipple to wet your whistle, you can always try this alcohol made with fermented “murder hornets”. Personally, we’ll stick to Japanese gin, thank you very much!

Source, images: PR Times
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