Roku Gin

Roku Gin In Japanese, roku means “six.” Suntory’s take on gin is called “six” after six quintessentially Japanese botanicals. Firstly, there’s green tea two ways: sencha and gyokuro. Cherry, also two ways: blossom and leaves. And then yuzu and Japanese pepper. There’s another eight traditional botanicals as well bringing the grand total up to fourteen.

Roku Gin has two variants on the market. There’s a travel exclusive under the same name with slightly amped up cherry blossom and their regular flagship Roku Gin. This one is the latter. Roku Gin is distilled from a general neutral base of grain.

Tasting Notes

Roku Gin has an ethereal top note of cherry blossom. Notes of green tea citron and pepper briefly emerge as it quickly quiets. The delicate aroma quickly passes and dissipates.

Smooth and oily, the spirit has a rich character as it coats the tongue. There’s a fleeting glimpse of cherry blossom and traditional gin notes before the tea and tannic notes take over. Heavy, leafy hints of green and early grey tea. A vivid note of bitter citrus and smokey leaves, with a palate drying and striking bitterness closer to something like Suze. The bitter note becomes evocative of gentian root and wormwood on the finish of Roku Gin.

Roku Gin’s palate is clinical in terms of the unfolding mouthfeel and flavor; however, it’s perhaps quite unusual and unexpected. Sipped neat, I believe Roku Gin approximates the experience of an amaro more than it does the platonic ideal of gin. That being said, it’s intriguing from a botanical perspective.

Cocktails

Roku’s bold and strikingly bitter profile does make it a challenging mixing gin. I found it to be unusual in traditional applications like the Gin and Tonic (challenging, intellectual, and less refreshing than expected), the Gimlet (the bitterness countered the cloying of the lime, but the finish didn’t work for me), and the Ramos Gin Fizz (it’s so acerbic, that I’m not sure Roku Gin is ever well suited for a dessert style gin cocktail).

As a gin on its own, I found it good to be enjoyed Neat. It worked as well in the quintessential high-end-gin-bar use. I mean of course, the Martini. The bitterness almost simulated the inclusion of Vermouth already. You can go super dry with Roku and still have a Martini that hits the expected notes. Finally, I also thought it made a good Negroni.

Bartenders would be well advised against treating Roku Gin as a mixing gin well suited for all uses. It’s a challenging gin that’s aiming at a couple kinds of appreciation (neat, rocks and Martinis).

Overall

Roku Gin has some interesting things going on, but ultimately, the palate just lacks balance, especially in the mids and on the finish. The intense bitter perspective obliterates the rest of the botanicals.

That being said, fans of complex botanical gins, and especially Martinis might be well advised to give Roku a look.

9 thoughts on “Roku Gin

  • November 30, -0001by Barry Lloyd

    A very fresh twist on gin with a great clean finnish . I love this gin and will be adding this to my go to list .

  • November 30, -0001by bill mcgrath

    one of the best gins i have ever tasted.and i have sampled very many gins.Roku is up there with the best.i.e.tanqueray no 10.hendricks etc

  • January 7, 2018by J Inglis

    Just bought Roku at duty free on the way home. It is perfect neat, well rounded and very smooth.
    I tried mixing with grapefruit tonic but it was overwhelmed by the grapefruit. In a standard gin and tonic I found the flavour excellent although it did need more tonic than normal as it tasted very strong. Overall I enjoyed the flavour but it probably depends on other gins you appreciate. If you enjoy smooth gins such as Citadel reserve this may be for you.

  • April 8, 2018by lu

    It´s gorgeous with elderflower tonic and slices of green apple (Granny Smith)

  • August 30, 2018by Maureen H Burke

    There are two variations of Roku gin. One from Duty Free stating SELECT EDITION in a Gold band on the front The other one is available from shops and online. Massive difference between the two.
    The duty free Select Edition one is smoother in my opinion.
    Difference in price too.

  • April 7, 2019by Chris east

    I’ve just tried this gin last night and the first drink was a standard gin and tonic and as others have mention the gin has a very sting taste. The second drink I tried it with fresh ginger. Wow wow wow amazing the best gin combo ever

  • May 3, 2019by Mark Straszheim

    The Roku is worth trying if you enjoy mildly complex and aromatic spirits. Building on the comments of using elderflower, I used Fever Tree Elderflower for a G&T. A good combo (but F-T makes a good combo with just about everything). I agree to caution in cocktails.

  • June 12, 2019by Jonathan

    Bought it for approximately $35. Not long ago I found it in a store in CT for less than $25. Should have bought a whole case.

    I made an amazing negroni (1:1:1) with Roku Gin, Noilly Prat SV, and Campari. Gin and tonic was also good but I used an “artisanal” brooklyn made tonic, so that could have changed the flavor too.

  • September 14, 2019by Jenny Fair

    Absolutely divine…as a lover of all drinks bitter and dry Roku is the perfect gin for me.

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