All About Japan

Niigata Craft Gin to Promote Sustainability

| Food & Drink , Niigata
Niigata Craft Gin to Promote Sustainability

Meet Imanari Shikago, the creator of craft gin Rokumoji. Imanari has engaged in wood processing. He uses timber resources from the Minamiuonuma area in Niigata Prefecture. He wanted to demonstrate how abundant the forests there are and decided to convey the message through gin production.

"It's such a waste that there are so many mountains but not all resources are being used," Shikago said. A key ingredient of the Rokumoji gin is a tree of the laurel family. It’s called kuromoji in Japanese. This tree is rich in aroma and used for making essential oils.

But here the plant hadn't been used for anything and only got in the way when thinning the beech forest. Now, the craft gin is expected to turn the kuromoji trees into a source of income. A member of the local forestry association hopes the alcoholic beverage will help boost his industry in the area. Another ingredient they used was leftover apple cores that a dried fruits manufacturer would have disposed of otherwise.

Six botanicals are used in the gin including a kind of cypress endemic to the area. Imanari and his team took around a year to create Rokumoji. Imanari hopes his product will show people how to utilize forest resources sustainably.