London Meets Tokyo With Cambridge Japanese Gin
Let's get something straight from the start; this gin is not from Japan. You may feel more than a little misled by this, I know I certainly did until I realised that it was made from a very interesting mix of traditional and Japanese botanicals by none other than William Lowe, head distiller at Cambridge Distillery
and creator of the world's most expensive gin, Watenshi, which retails at a staggering £2000! Cambridge Distillery is well known for being the only Gin Taylor in the world, you can go there and select your own botanicals and William Lowe will create you a unique, personalised gin. He has been commissioned by some of the very best restaurants in the country and the House of Lords to make bespoke gin so it is safe to assume that the man has a great deal of talent! Japanese Gin is the first in the world to combine quintessential juniper notes with traditional Japanese botanicals, a combination that has garnered a large amount of critical acclaim and resulted in the gin winning a double gold in the China and Hong Kong Wine and Spirits Awards; not an easy task due to this competition being considered one of the most rigorous and prestigious in the world. It also won the Gin of the Year trophy 2015. So what goes into this gin that makes it s special? Cambridge Distillery have kept it simple with just six botanicals used in the gins production. These are as follows; Juniper:
No gin is gin without Juniper. They use the best that can be sourced; organic and hand-harvested in Macedonia. Shiso leaf:
A beautiful culinary herb from Japan, often used for seasoning as well as a natural plate for wasabi. Seasame Seeds:
These feature so strongly in Japanese cooking that the country has become the world’s largest importer of sesame seed! A roasted white seed is used which offers a smooth, nutty profile. Cucumber:
A popular ingredient in both sushi and gin. Only fresh cucumber is used, capturing its fresh green character by distilling it at low temperatures under vacuum. Sanshō:
This is a spice with a distinctive and broad flavour, playing the role of the earthy, root botanicals commonly found in London Dry Gin. Yuzu:
This has an aromatic zest, often used in place of lemon zest in Japanese cuisine. It plays exactly the same role in Japanese Gin, bringing clean, crisp citrus character. All of these botanicals are, rather unusually, distilled individually in just 1.5 litre batches by hand in the distillery which more resembles a university science lab than a place where alcohol is produced! The resultant distillates are then blended together in a process more common in the whisky world; this is undertaken at a low temperature to ensure that the fresh flavours are captured and retained.
As one would expect from such a bespoke operation, every bottle is printed individually in Cambridge using traditional silk-screen printing techniques from Japan. Each bottle will be slightly different due to this hand crafted technique. Cambridge Distillery is run by just two people, husband and wife team William and Lucy Lowe, each bringing different areas of expertise to the table; sounds like a match made in gin heaven to me! William Lowe is the Master Distiller, and is responsible for all the technical distilling stuff and hosting the special gin tailoring and blended events at the distillery. He has been in the drinks industry for 17 years and has amassed a host of impressive titles and accolades during this time. He is a Wine and Spirit Educator to professionals in the industry, was awarded the title of International Wine and Spirits Championship Associate Judge of the Year and is the winner of highly coveted Wines from Spain scholarship for the Master of Wine qualification. Will is often found on judging panels and also writes for trade publications and websites in the capacity of a wine, spirit and cocktail expert. Recently he has been appointed as the Diploma Spirits Educator at WSET, the foremost wine and spirits educational institution in the world! To top it all off, he enjoys competing in Iron Man and other endurance events, meaning he has braun as well as super smarts!
The saying goes that behind every successful man is a good woman and this is certainly the case here. Lucy Lowe compliments Will's technical skills and is in charge of the distillery's branding and marketing activities. Lucy loves gin and it was in no small part the inspiration for founding Cambridge Distillery. Passionate to the point of obsession on the subject of purity of flavour, she is the first obstacle any new distillate must negotiate in order to be accepted into the range. When not in the distillery, Lucy is most likely found on horseback or walking with Darcy, family pet and distillery mascot!
There are definite floral notes on the nose. We tried the gin neat and found it to be extremely enjoyable over ice and very well balanced. it is sweet and light with a touch of savoury in the finish. A very clean and pure gin which promotes the distinctive Japanese flavours with great aplomb. Would be great accompanying sushi or anything that contains fresh fish. An absolute must try gin. You can buy Japanese Gin here