A highly regarded Kagoshima shochu producer since 1883, Komasa Jyozo’s first foray into craft gin last year produced a bright, citrus-centric spirit featuring the world’s smallest mandarin, the Sakurajima komikan, grown on the eponymous volcanic island. Its second gin, created from a base of rice shochu, champions another quintessential Japanese ingredient – hojicha, or roasted green tea – and it is sensational.
While tea is a common botanical in Japanese gin, roasted green tea is an ingenious twist, as the heating process eliminates the caffeine bitterness to create a tea that’s deeply aromatic, more mellow and less astringent. This is a perfect foil for the sharp juniper berries while the addition of Japanese cypress enhances the forest aroma of hojicha. Add a little bit of tonic water to really open up the warm, uniquely Japanese bouquet.