Jinzu is the 2013 ‘Show Your Spirit’ competition winner and is a unique blend of Scottish gin and Japanese sake.
Price: ~ £33
Named after the river that flows from Gifu Prefecture to Toyama Prefecture in Japan, Jinzu is the brainchild of british bartender Dee Davies. Made by macerating the juniper, coriander and angelica, before adding the cherry blossom and yuzu before distillation. After that, the distillate is blended with Junmai sake and the result is watered down for bottling.
The bottle shape is fairly standard with a pleasantly curved neck that tapers outward at the lip, which sits under a wide wooden stopper which has the little umbrella-holding bird printed on it.
The beauty of the design is in its printing. On the front the little bird sits atop the name of the gin, while branches of cherry blossom tree wind their way around the bottle from the back. This is where the really great part comes in. On the back, in white, is printed a bird cage with an open door. When full, the cage is magnified by the liquid and sits behind the bird when looking at the bottle from the front. It’s a lovely clean design that beautifully portrays the inspiration for the contents.
It’s gin, but not as we know it. The initial impression is that of the wonderfully fresh, sour aromas of sake. There are fruity citrus notes, reminiscent of tequila at times, and beneath that lies a hint of the juniper spirit mixed in with some floral tones. It’s a beautifully clean smelling drink, but it is most definitely not the smell of a classic gin.
Neat, Jinzu is sweet and crisp with an incredibly delicate mouthfeel. The florals come through strongly at first, with undertones of citrus and savoury sake, then right at the end it reminds you that it is indeed a gin. The angelica and coriander come through with a warming touch followed by a faint, sour pine. The longer it sits on the tongue, the more the gin flavours come through and I’m left with a unique, sweet & savoury floral gin.
Water brings out the floral notes further, enhancing that beautifully delicate flavour. Citrus notes come through a little more too, increasing the freshness of the overall taste. The classic gin flavours don’t come through much more, but the balance between the more savoury flavours of the sake and the sweetness of the botanicals is truly something to behold.
Finally, a G&T (1:3 Fevertree Mediterranean tonic) with a slice of apple. Now I went into this review knowing that Jinzu made one of my favourite G&Ts. I love this combination. It’s sweet and fruity, but so full of florals, unlike anything else I’ve had. All that is balanced by those savoury notes from the sake and yuzu so it never feels too sweet. Instead it’s just a beautifully fresh, delicate drink that I think most people would love. This is definitely in my top 10 G&Ts.
I really love Jinzu. Yes it has a lot that takes it away from being a classic gin (though it never claims to be one), so I can see fans of more dry, bitter gins not enjoying it so much, but the things that steer it away from classic are exactly its selling point. Jinzu is an outlier on the cross-chart of gin classification, sitting in a space that I’ve not yet found anything else come close to, and it does it beautifully. If you like sweet, fresh, floral flavours then this is an absolute must buy. Even if you don’t, it’s well worth trying.
Remove up to one feather if you are not a fan of sweet, floral blends and prefer your gin dry.
Jinzu is available online and in some shops
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.