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New company plans gin distillery in Kyoto

David Croll and Marcin Miller today have announced the founding of Number One Drinks Company Japan and unveiled plans to build an artisan gin distillery – thought to be Japan’s first – scheduled to open in early 2016.

Having secured premises, the company has ordered stills from CARL and is recruited Alex Davies (pictured), former distiller at Chase and Cotswold distilleries. Davies will be backed up by a newly-appointed assistant distiller with over 20 years experience in the industry, including a spell distilling whisky in Scotland, as well as a highly respected Japanese former master distiller who will act as a consultant.

Croll, who has lived in Japan for more than 20 years and for the last 10 of those has worked with Miller in exporting Japanese whiskies, says: “Our plan is simply to make the finest gin possible with a focus on Japanese botanicals. We realise that there are plenty of new entrants in the gin category but are confident that, by offering an exceptional spirit with a genuine point of difference, we will attract discerning consumers. Our initial emphasis will be on engaging with the Japanese bartending community and, thereafter, exporting to a small number of markets on allocation only.”

Miller adds: “The gin category remains dynamic but we are entering a period of natural selection where quality and a genuine backstory of craft and location is becoming increasingly important. David and I have extensive experience with Japanese drinks and our head distiller is hugely enthusiastic about the opportunities offered by the fruit and spices of Kyoto.”

Davies comments: “It had to be an amazing offer to lure me away from my last position but I figured this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Kyoto is famed for its cuisine, has an abundance of fruit unique to the area and is the cradle of Japanese craft, from sake-brewing to kimono-weaving, woodblock printing, ceramics and lacquer work. I have stacks of ideas already and can’t wait to start distilling in the most inspiring and forward-thinking city I’ve ever visited.”

A third partner in the business is Marius Vestnes of Cask Owners who will spearhead the company’s distribution in Scandinavia. 

16 November 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor