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. These six botanicals are each distilled individually. There’s another eight traditional botanicals bringing the grand total up to fourteen.
Roku Gin is post distilled from a base of grain.
Aroma: 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.
Flavor: Rich mouthfeel. Hints of cherry blossom early, easing into mid-palate leafy green tea with intimations of begramot and Earl Grey tea. Slight notes of peppery juniper. Bitter orange comes on late in surprising amounts, leading to impressions of vegetal wormwood.
Finish: Short and slightly tannic with even a touch of smoky nuance. Fairly high astringency and quite dry in profile, Roku Gin’s flavor from nearly start to finish exists within the haze of the tea notes.
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 well in the Martini. You can make an Extra Dry Martini with Roku Gin and still have a Martini that seemingly has the impression of Dry Vermouth in it. 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 can be discordant in some applications.
Roku Gin has some interesting things going on, but the bitterness overwhelms the subtlety in the other botanicals and leads to a gin that will certainly appeal to seasoned gin drinkers and experts at picking out botanicals.
However, it’s hard to recommend Roku Gin to the everyday gin drinker. If your go-to tipple is the Martini, you might enjoy Roku Gin, but fans of Gin and Tonics might find better balanced gins, even at this very affordable price point.
24 thoughts on “Roku Gin”
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 .
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
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.
It´s gorgeous with elderflower tonic and slices of green apple (Granny Smith)
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.
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
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.
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.
Absolutely divine…as a lover of all drinks bitter and dry Roku is the perfect gin for me.
I’ve been enjoying this with Schweppes Bitter lemon, ice, and a slice this summer. The dryness and floral notes compliment it well for me.
Superb with cold soda and nothing else
Best gin ever
Really enjoyed this gin. Very refreshing and interesting to taste. Agree with another commenter on the elderflower tonic. Fevertree is great with this and would highly recommend.
This has quickly become one of my go-to gins of late. I agree that it can be a little off in a number of cocktails, but where it works, it works better than almost anything else.
My only real complaint is the low juniper (and even there, I feel this has more than many of the modern gins out there). If they were to make a style with a heavier juniper profile, that would almost certainly become my absolute favorite gin!
Sublime with Fevertree Mediterranean tonic. Love this gin. Curiously reminds me of the lotus tea I tasted in Paris years ago!
I am in love with it the juniper comes quick and leaves with a delicate tea taste. I am hooked.
I have made drink what I call Nippon GT.
I’m not sure is there already GT called that name,
but I tryed to google it before I “invented” it for my self and I didn’t find any.
Lots of ice
4cl Roku gin
200ml Thomas Henry Cherry Blossom Tonic
This is an oddly divisive gin for me. On the one hand, it’s remarkably polished and smooth. On the other, it’s kinda lacking in notes that other gins excel in, and a lot of what’s used gets kind of lost in translation. It really is just “neat or a classic martini” kind of gin. That all said, it does have strong merit as such, and I do recommend it.
Love this gin! Perfect with Fever Tree’s Aromatic Tonic as it holds up to that tonic’s distinct flavor. I treat it like a house gin and it’s always a hit with guests.
A very subtle and clean gin. Perhaps a little TOO clean and subtle. Nothing too unique about it, like I was hoping. But if someone is looking for a gin that doesn’t punch you in the face with botanicals, this is a good choice.
I find it makes a lovely G&T muddled with a generous slice of fresh ginger and Fever Tree Mediterranean. I’ll have to try it with the elderflower version soon, as suggested.
Lovely dry gin with a great finish. I like things simple, a shot and a half with plain seltzer and a twist of lime. Low carb and refreshing, makes a lovely drink.
“Intense bitter perspective?” Hardly. This is is a contemporary dry gin, and had gin originated in Japan, this may well have been a classical style. It’s full of the usual suspects like juniper, angelica, and coriander, but also uniquely Japanese ones like Shansho “pepper,” a citrus with a numbing heat like Szechuan pepper (its cousin). The taste is unmistakable, and dominant. It It’s uniquely Eastern, and tastes like eel with rice on the coast at a summer sunset. It pairs well with a yuzu soda or fever tree, either light tonic (their best tonic) or elderflower tonic, but plain soda and ice are just as well. I prefer it over all other Japanese (export) gins for, while modern in fact, it feels old and well worn, like a gin “should” to my mind.
I make a Sake Martini using Roku and garnish it with cucumber slices. Magnificent!
I replace the vermouth with sake.
I’m not a seasoned gin drinker, but am well versed in vodka. Have only gone as high as SipSmith and many under that level. This one is by far the best gin at this price point. Well done.