Roku Gin is an excellent craft Gin produced by the world-renowned Whisky producer Suntory. The term "Roku" is Japanese for six. That hints to the face that the list of botanicals includes six typical Japanese ingredients.
Further, these six botanicals are intended to reflect the four seasons: Sakura flower as a symbol of spring, Green tea like Sencha and Gyokuro for summer, Sansho pepper for winter, and last but not least, yuzu as a symbol for Japanese winters.
The subtle taste and flavor profile make it seem like Roku is a Gin that you can easily incorporate into a Gin & Tonic or other mixed drinks.
However, Roku Gin is quite challenging. Still, you can create fantastic cocktails with this Japanese Gin.
What type of Gin is Roku?
Roku Gin is a modern Gin, often referred to as contemporary Gin or New Western Dry Gin. The base is made from grains infused with a total of 14 botanicals.
Roku is great for sipping neat. However, it's quite a challenging Gin for mixing. The unusual flavor profile with bitter notes and the subtle sweetness often doesn't work in cocktails as one might expect.
Japanese bottle design
If you remember, Roku means six. This number reflects the six Japanese botanicals in the list of ingredients. On the bottle label, you can also see a small "6" inside a red square next to the name Roku Gin.
The choice of colors, red for the square on a white background looks familiar? That's because they're the same as seen on the Japanese flag.
When touching the label, you can feel it is not made of ordinary paper. Indeed, quick research reveals that it's washi paper, another highlight of Japanese craftsmanship.
The bottle shape also looks a bit unusual at first. On closer inspection, you see that the corners build a hexagon. -One more hidden clue to the six Japanese ingredients.
On the glass of the bottle, you can find all six natural Japanese botanicals embossed. If you ask me, that's quite some thought that went into the bottle design.
Botanicals in Roku Gin
Roku Gin is flavored with a total of 14 botanicals. Six of them are natural ingredients Japan is famous for. The other eight botanicals are more common and are in many Gins. So, here's the complete list of botanicals:
- Sakura flowers (cherry blossoms)
- Sakura leafs
- yuzu peel
- Sencha tea
- Gyokuro tea
- Sansho pepper
- Angelica root
- Angelica seeds
- Lemon peel
- Bitter orange peel
The aroma of Roku Gin
Roku Gin has a delicate nose with a floral aroma and top notes of cherry blossom. You can also smell green tea, yuzu, lemon, and hints of pepper.
The beauty of Roku Gin is that it shows a great variety of different aromas. Each of these is somewhat subtle and not overpowering but at the same time clean and sharp.
It's primarily the aroma of green tea, juniper, citrus, pepper, and sakura flowers that build the complex profile.
Roku Gin is smooth and oily on the palate with a rich mouthfeel. Once the Gin coats your tongue, you can taste quite strong notes of juniper with hints of cherry blossom.
The citrus notes are a bit less dominant compared to the aroma. In contrast, the bitter notes of green tea are far more pronounced.
This unexpected touch of bitterness is also the main reason why this Gin is challenging to mix. Combined with traditional tonic water, like Indian Tonic, it will taste slightly bitter.
Roku Gin in cocktails
However, Roku Gin can still work a treat in a G&T. Combined with the right tonic water, it's amazing, actually. My favorite pairing is with Goldberg Yuzu tonic.
The fact that the Gin is more bitter than usual, the tonic is less bitter than others, plus both include yuzu flavors, make this duo a match made in heaven.
The Roku Gin Travel Retail Select Edition
Roku Gin is available in two variations. One is the standard bottle, and then there's the Travel Retail Select Edition.
It looks nearly the same and has a similar flavor profile as the regular version. But compared to the standard bottle, the taste of Sakura flowers is more pronounced.
In Japan, the standard flagship bottle is also slightly larger and stronger, clocking in at 47% ABV instead of the international 43% ABV.
Conclusion of this Roku Gin Review
Overall, Roku Gin is a great Gin with some unusual ingredients and flavors. This results in a bold and complex flavor profile. It may be hard to find the right tonic for this Gin but in combination with a Goldberg Yuzu tonic, it works great.
In cocktails, Roku Gin can also be a bit tricky but over time you'll learn how to use this Gin appropriately. Starting points should be a classic Negroni or a Gin-Gin Mule.