Last Saturday, As part of the Bangkok Gin Festival with Vice Versa Company, hosted a session at Asia Today featuring the newly imported Akayane gin from Kagoshima with master distiller Timothée Traber.
It was a hot and sunny day as it’s soon to be Summer. I watched as the place was quickly filled and the session ran quite intensively like a class from the beginning which I liked. Whereas other sessions in recalled memories were either very casual as if it was a drunk homeroom period, or in a very sales pitch manner.
Akayane (Red Roof) is under Sata Souji Shoten, a well-known distillery that is currently running by its 4th generation in Kagoshima, the very southernmost of Kyushu island of Japan, where it is known as a large procedure for both sweet potato and Shoshu. From the early 2000s, They wanted to change the approach on distilling to be less industrial and more artisanal like spirits in Europe. Which led to meeting the Traber family of Distillerie Metté that focused on eau de vie that eventually evolved into a collaboration and crafting this gin using Satsumasweet potato Shoshu base.
Akayane Gin aims to be a sipping gin representing 4 seasons with just 6 botanicals/ingredients in each of them. Where drinkers can appreciate what’s in it without being confused by overwhelming confusion of the whole botanical greenhouse in one bottle. Most of the ingredients are organic, seasonally and locally sourced from within the area or nearby prefectures. They use mineral water sources from the area near the distillery.
Every season will have Juniper berries, each botanical/ingredient are macerated on its own before blending and distilled, some will be added again during distillation in order to emphasize specific characters and notes. Their Satsuma sweet potato base uses house made rice Koji and is distilled in traditional Japanese then aged in tanks.
Fuyu – Winter
What’s in it: Juniper Berries, Komikan, Tankan, Kinkan, Yuzu, Passion fruit
Notes: A curl of oranges citrus forward with a slight dryness and bitterness. Then a bright light passion fruit creamy finish.
Haru – Spring
What’s in it: Juniper Berries, Kyoto Sakura flowers and leaves, Kombu, Yuzu, Sansho pepper, Matcha
Notes: Very flowery and like a sweet potato dessert with tiny bits of Yuzu. The finish is laced with clean and dry Sansho pepper.
Natsu – Summer
What’s in it: Juniper Berries, Japanese Plum, Kombu, Cucumber, Shiso leaf, Matcha
Notes: Acidity and greenness of plum come first with cucumber and shiso. Herbal and bitterness from Matcha and gentle Kombu can be felt as rounding the whole thing. Drier than Haru but fresher. *The Gin also has been in the eau de vie cask for 3-4 days.
Aki – Fall
What’s in it: Juniper Berries, Sweet potato skins, Vanilla, Maitake, Shimeji, Kabosu
Notes: As if inhaling a freshly foraged wild mushroom among yams, and some wildflowers amidst the forest. Dry but with enough stimulation of caramel sweet and savory to keep the mouth salivate. A creamy end with a very soft tap of Kabosu that’s very close to Calamansi.
*They have made mushroom bouillon, sweet potato skin, and vanilla are all cooked separately before maceration.
In the end, Niks made us some classics like Martini and Negroni. I decided to try Aki Martinez which Niks aiming for a clean and tight profile and it did. They were nice as cocktails but I must say I preferred it neat or on the rock better. Especially Aki.