The land of the rising spirits

Japan venerated by gin and whisky launches this month

New London Dry gin, Kuro, was created to “capture the essence of the Japanese Alps”.
New London Dry gin, Kuro, was created to “capture the essence of the Japanese Alps”.

TWO altogether different spirits, both tied to the archipelagic nation of Japan, have been launched this month.

Kuro, a London Dry gin, was the brainchild of two friends who wanted to “capture the essence of the Japanese Alps”, while Chita Single Grain Whisky is a new release from the Tokyo-based House of Suntory.

Having visited Japan on a skiing trip, businessmen Craig Fell and John Thomson had the idea of producing a gin in tribute to the country, using botanicals such as silver birch bark, spruce needles and bamboo-activated charcoal.

The gin was subsequently crafted at the Langley Distillery, near Birmingham, and distilled in collaboration with Langley’s master distiller, Rob Dorsett.

Fell, now managing director at Kuro, said the gin “has been 18 months in the making and we’re delighted with the end product”.

“This is something completely different in the world of gin, and I hope to have captured the experience of the Hakuba Valley alpine slopes in every serve of Kuro,” said Fell.

“What started off as an idea during après-ski has developed through many stages and taste tests and I’m keen to hear the trade and industry verdict on our unique blend of botanicals.

“In the next 12 months we aim to secure national listings in premium bars, restaurants and selected retailers across the country, and establish Kuro among the British gin drinks repertoire. International stockists are also among our first year targets and I have an ambition to take Kuro back to the place it was conceived, Japan.”

Kuro is the first drinks project from Fell, who has experience as a designer through his own marketing agency, and Thomson who has worked in business management for over a decade.

Meanwhile, Chita Single Grain Whisky is the first single grain release from Suntory Japanese Whisky.

Suntory chief blender, Shinji Fukuyo, aged Chita in wine and Spanish oak casks alongside American white oak casks, which have resulted in a “milder whisky with a clean, clear finish”, according to the firm.

One of the largest drinks firms in the world, Beam Suntory’s whisky portfolio also includes Japanese brands Yamazaki and Hibiki, as well as the Laphroaig, Bowmore and Auchentoshan Scotch whiskies and American brands Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark.