This gin comes to us from Japan’s Kaikyō Distillery, which is also responsible for the recently launched Hatozaki whisky label. While 135 East Hyogo Dry Gin is couched in the London Dry tradition, its recipe includes some specifically Japanese botanicals including sencha, yuzu, shiso leaf, ume, and sancho pepper. The name is derived from the longitudinal location of Akashi City, where the Kaikyō Distillery is located.
Its nose is citrusy and sharp, big on yuzu with a secondary shot of sencha pepper and juniper. It has a soft, creamy mouthfeel and is cool in temperature, with bright and clear flavors of yuzu to start. In the center we get floral, fruity influence from ume, and the grassy minty notes of shiso. The back grows creamy with sweet lemon peel before a gentle spark of sencha pepper that tapers off into a softly spiced finish.
In a Gin and Tonic, 135 East Hyogo’s softness is somewhat covered up by the tonic—more than you might like if you prefer big, juniper-forward London Drys. But it still lends some of its unique botanical qualities. Yuzu is as detectable as ever up front, and softer traces of shiso and ume are present later in the experience. However, my favorite application for the gin was in a Southside, where its shiso qualities were magnificently pulled out by the mint (and vice versa).
I might not call on 135 East for Martini duty, but if you’re looking for a softer gin with interesting, characteristically Japanese flavors, 135 East Hyogo is well-worth a pour.