Gin doesn’t get much more Japanese than this.

There are lots of unique tastes and textures in Japanese cuisine, and one of my favorite flavors among them has always been shiso. It’s sometimes called “Japanese basil,” but the exact taste of shiso is a little hard to describe, but I usually think of it as “mint-adjacent” in that it has a lot of qualities of mint, but without that distinct harshness that it’s most famous for.

It’s even milder than spearmint in the mintiness spectrum but still has a firm taste with a lot of floral qualities. One of the more notable uses of it are in the rice seasoning Yukari, where its flavor really pops along with salt and ume brine.

It’s also used to flavor shochu, which is Japanese distilled liquor. Shochu most frequently comes in sweet potato and barley flavors, but I’d take a glass of shiso shochu over either of them every time, even despite the fact that it’s a tongue twister to order.

The flavor of shiso really complements dry drinks well, which is probably why it was chosen as the star of Koshu Nirasaki Gin, a new type of sipping gin enhanced with a blend of natural tastes. The biggest flavors in this blend being shiso and the currently popular taste and aroma of cherry blossoms.

▼ If it’s good enough for lattes, it’s sure as heck good enough for gin

The other seven flavors in this gin are the standard juniper berry, along with licorice, lime, grapefruit peel, orange peel, coriander, and angelica. The gin itself is distilled from pure spring water and aged genshu, which is undiluted sake. This provides a flavorful gin that’s smooth enough for beginners to try and has both the backbone and seasoning of quintessential Japanese tastes.

It’s sure to be so easy to drink that you’ll need to watch out, or the 700-milliliter (24-ounce) bottle will be gone before you know it. And with a 37-percent alcohol content, you’ll regret it in the morning.

Koshu Nirasaki Gin went on sale on 22 March and sells for about 1,180 yen (US$9.75) per bottle. It’s a great entry point for Japanese gin, but for those looking for a more advanced taste there’s always the First Essence Tagame Gin, made with the essence of giant water bugs.

Source: PR Times via Japaaan
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