Kokoro - Gin

$85.00
Sale price

Regular price $85.00

"Juniper is the first botanical to reach the nose, though earthy, citrusy sansho is present, given levity by the sweet orange.

The gin has an interesting flavour journey; the sweet botanicals envelop the tongue, with liquorice making itself very well known. The sansho comes in with a warming spice, but that is quickly side swiped by candied orange and lemon citrus. Fire dances at the back of the sip, with the sansho coating the mouth in pepper.

That said, those with a spice phobia shouldn’t avoid this gin. Juniper is present throughout the journey and the orange and lemon bring a real lightness. The finish is lasting, though hard to define – none of the botanicals particularly shout, instead a complex and aromatic taste settles in the mouth.

Tonic heightens the citrus, hushing the brine and spice of the sansho and bringing out a hint of lemon. We’d continue playing with that theme when hunting for a G&T garnish, adding in yuzu if accessible and mandarin if not.

It is packaged in frosted glass, in a tall, wide bottle with Japanese calligraphy (the Hiragana for Kokoro) dominating the front. Keeping to the Japanese theme, the bottle is clean and uncluttered, though a couple of short paragraphs telling the story of Uncle Nic feature on the back of the bottle. Everything is embossed, bar the neck sticker, which features Japanese characters that translate to ‘heart of the forest.’"

--------THE PRODUCER--------

Thames Distillery

The story begins in the 1960s, when Uncle Nic made his way to Japan and ended up fronting several nature programmes. He made something of a name for himself there, and in the 1980s was paid to front an advert for Nikka Whisky. He used his fee to buy a house up in the Japanese Alps where he – as a nature lover – was dismayed by the state of the surrounding forests, which were dying following years of over planting and mismanagement.

His course of action was to buy as much of the woodland as he could and donate it to the Afan Woodland Trust which has worked with him over the past three decades to bring the area back to life. The woods are now flourishing, and home to over 50 endangered species.

It was on a visit to the Alpine home that James and his brother-in-law and Kokoro Gin co-founder, Barry Darnell, decided to make a Japanese inspired gin. 

When they got to Japan, Uncle Nic took them for a walk in the woods – he introduced them to the sansho berries growing in the vicinity (“you pick a few off the bush and eat them and there’s this intense explosion of flavour, almost like an electric current over the tongue” James told us) and encouraged them to drink water from a mountain stream, which took on a whole new glacial freshness when teamed up with the sansho taste.

James returned to the UK and began experimenting with the berries. Though he had no previous distilling experience, he took to the role with gusto, armed with just a self-customised 20-litre stove top still and an A-level in Chemistry.

He soon realised that only fresh berries retain that unique, mountain-air zing, so abandoned any notion of using imported dried berries. Instead, Uncle Nic and a handful of locals from the nearest town, Kurohime, pick them from the Afan Woods. The work is hugely labour intensive, as once the berries have been plucked they need to be transported and cleaned of their stems before being bagged up and frozen.

To create their gin – one that would carry the flavour of the sansho without letting it entirely dominate the taste – the duo turned to Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers. He has been distilling for forty years and has an incredible knowledge of the relationships between botanicals, so – working to James’s notes – he was able to form the recipe after just a couple of trial distillations.

The botanicals forming the final line up are juniper, coriander, angelica, sweet orange, almond, liquorice, savory, lemon peel and sansho berries. The botanicals and spirit are loaded into Thames’ 500-litre John Dore still and left to macerate overnight. Once the still is switched on, the run takes around five hours.

The gin is made to concentrate, so once this comes off the still (at around 80% ABV), it is blended with further neutral spirit before being cut down to its bottling strength of 42%.

The best place to start when you are pairing food and wine is to think about the structural elements of both the food and wines. These elements are: sweetness, acidity, bitterness, umami, chilli heat and fat.

We have listed these elements in foods and how you can add wines with similar or contrasting elements to help create harmony in your matches.

Sweetness 

Sweet foods can overpower dry wines, white or red, making them appear acidic, neutral or bitter. In order to reduce this effect you should pair sweet foods with sweet wines. 

Acidity

Acidic foods, like fresh citrus, tomatoes or salads laden with vinaigrettes, will overpower the acidity in a wine making them appear flabby or less acidic than they were. In order to reduce this effect you should pair acidic foods with wines that have a higher acidity such as Champagne, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Acidity is a key element in creating balance in a dish or a food-and-wine match. If the foods are going to reduce the acidity in the wines then you need to add your own bit of acidity by bringing a more acidic wine to the table. It is the same principle behind adding lemon juice to seafood dishes, as seafood tends to have quite low natural acidity.

Bitterness

If a food is high in bitterness then it will make the wine appear bitter, or it will increase the perception of bitterness (tannins) in the wine. In order to reduce this effect you should pair bitter foods with wines that are not bitter but rather have refreshing acidity.

Umami (Savoury)

Foods that are highly savoury, like mushrooms, will increase the bitterness or acidic perception we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair umami rich foods with wines that are very fruity and do not have medium-high tannins. 

Often foods that are more savoury are best matched with white wines like Chardonnay or Soave as these do not have tannins but have lots of fruity flavours nor do they have extremely high acidity.

Chilli Heat

Chilli heat is similar to umami rich foods where by it will increase the bitterness or acidic perception as well as the alcoholic burn we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair chilli heat rich foods with wines that are very fruity but also have higher sweetness.

Wines that are just a touch off-dry like many Gewurztraminer or Riesling work best with chilli foods like a curry as they will be both a bit sweet but also very fruity. If you aren't a white wine drinker then you should consider red wines that have lower tannins such as a Pinot Noir or a Gamay Noir. 

Fatty

Foods that are high in fat will make the wines feel flabby and less fruity. In order to reduce this effect you should pair fatty foods with wines that have high acidity. This is similar to the rule of adding in acidity (in the form of citrus) to seafood to help balance out not just the acidity but to cut down the perception of fattiness in the seafood. 

This is why when you are having a piece of red meat that is high in fat, like lamb, then you should pair it with a Pinot Noir instead of a Merlot as a Pinot Noir will have a higher acidity and will help to balance out the dish.

 

 

These rules will help you with starting to think about how to create pairings. It often isn't helpful to think about 'red wine and red meat' or 'white wine and fish' because it is actually the structural elements of the wine and food that are what need to be balanced. It is the acidity in white wines that work well with cutting through the fattiness of a piece of fish but you could get that acidity through a Pinot Noir. 

"Juniper is the first botanical to reach the nose, though earthy, citrusy sansho is present, given levity by the sweet orange.

The gin has an interesting flavour journey; the sweet botanicals envelop the tongue, with liquorice making itself very well known. The sansho comes in with a warming spice, but that is quickly side swiped by candied orange and lemon citrus. Fire dances at the back of the sip, with the sansho coating the mouth in pepper.

That said, those with a spice phobia shouldn’t avoid this gin. Juniper is present throughout the journey and the orange and lemon bring a real lightness. The finish is lasting, though hard to define – none of the botanicals particularly shout, instead a complex and aromatic taste settles in the mouth.

Tonic heightens the citrus, hushing the brine and spice of the sansho and bringing out a hint of lemon. We’d continue playing with that theme when hunting for a G&T garnish, adding in yuzu if accessible and mandarin if not.

It is packaged in frosted glass, in a tall, wide bottle with Japanese calligraphy (the Hiragana for Kokoro) dominating the front. Keeping to the Japanese theme, the bottle is clean and uncluttered, though a couple of short paragraphs telling the story of Uncle Nic feature on the back of the bottle. Everything is embossed, bar the neck sticker, which features Japanese characters that translate to ‘heart of the forest.’"

--------THE PRODUCER--------

Thames Distillery

The story begins in the 1960s, when Uncle Nic made his way to Japan and ended up fronting several nature programmes. He made something of a name for himself there, and in the 1980s was paid to front an advert for Nikka Whisky. He used his fee to buy a house up in the Japanese Alps where he – as a nature lover – was dismayed by the state of the surrounding forests, which were dying following years of over planting and mismanagement.

His course of action was to buy as much of the woodland as he could and donate it to the Afan Woodland Trust which has worked with him over the past three decades to bring the area back to life. The woods are now flourishing, and home to over 50 endangered species.

It was on a visit to the Alpine home that James and his brother-in-law and Kokoro Gin co-founder, Barry Darnell, decided to make a Japanese inspired gin. 

When they got to Japan, Uncle Nic took them for a walk in the woods – he introduced them to the sansho berries growing in the vicinity (“you pick a few off the bush and eat them and there’s this intense explosion of flavour, almost like an electric current over the tongue” James told us) and encouraged them to drink water from a mountain stream, which took on a whole new glacial freshness when teamed up with the sansho taste.

James returned to the UK and began experimenting with the berries. Though he had no previous distilling experience, he took to the role with gusto, armed with just a self-customised 20-litre stove top still and an A-level in Chemistry.

He soon realised that only fresh berries retain that unique, mountain-air zing, so abandoned any notion of using imported dried berries. Instead, Uncle Nic and a handful of locals from the nearest town, Kurohime, pick them from the Afan Woods. The work is hugely labour intensive, as once the berries have been plucked they need to be transported and cleaned of their stems before being bagged up and frozen.

To create their gin – one that would carry the flavour of the sansho without letting it entirely dominate the taste – the duo turned to Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers. He has been distilling for forty years and has an incredible knowledge of the relationships between botanicals, so – working to James’s notes – he was able to form the recipe after just a couple of trial distillations.

The botanicals forming the final line up are juniper, coriander, angelica, sweet orange, almond, liquorice, savory, lemon peel and sansho berries. The botanicals and spirit are loaded into Thames’ 500-litre John Dore still and left to macerate overnight. Once the still is switched on, the run takes around five hours.

The gin is made to concentrate, so once this comes off the still (at around 80% ABV), it is blended with further neutral spirit before being cut down to its bottling strength of 42%.

The best place to start when you are pairing food and wine is to think about the structural elements of both the food and wines. These elements are: sweetness, acidity, bitterness, umami, chilli heat and fat.

We have listed these elements in foods and how you can add wines with similar or contrasting elements to help create harmony in your matches.

Sweetness 

Sweet foods can overpower dry wines, white or red, making them appear acidic, neutral or bitter. In order to reduce this effect you should pair sweet foods with sweet wines. 

Acidity

Acidic foods, like fresh citrus, tomatoes or salads laden with vinaigrettes, will overpower the acidity in a wine making them appear flabby or less acidic than they were. In order to reduce this effect you should pair acidic foods with wines that have a higher acidity such as Champagne, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Acidity is a key element in creating balance in a dish or a food-and-wine match. If the foods are going to reduce the acidity in the wines then you need to add your own bit of acidity by bringing a more acidic wine to the table. It is the same principle behind adding lemon juice to seafood dishes, as seafood tends to have quite low natural acidity.

Bitterness

If a food is high in bitterness then it will make the wine appear bitter, or it will increase the perception of bitterness (tannins) in the wine. In order to reduce this effect you should pair bitter foods with wines that are not bitter but rather have refreshing acidity.

Umami (Savoury)

Foods that are highly savoury, like mushrooms, will increase the bitterness or acidic perception we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair umami rich foods with wines that are very fruity and do not have medium-high tannins. 

Often foods that are more savoury are best matched with white wines like Chardonnay or Soave as these do not have tannins but have lots of fruity flavours nor do they have extremely high acidity.

Chilli Heat

Chilli heat is similar to umami rich foods where by it will increase the bitterness or acidic perception as well as the alcoholic burn we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair chilli heat rich foods with wines that are very fruity but also have higher sweetness.

Wines that are just a touch off-dry like many Gewurztraminer or Riesling work best with chilli foods like a curry as they will be both a bit sweet but also very fruity. If you aren't a white wine drinker then you should consider red wines that have lower tannins such as a Pinot Noir or a Gamay Noir. 

Fatty

Foods that are high in fat will make the wines feel flabby and less fruity. In order to reduce this effect you should pair fatty foods with wines that have high acidity. This is similar to the rule of adding in acidity (in the form of citrus) to seafood to help balance out not just the acidity but to cut down the perception of fattiness in the seafood. 

This is why when you are having a piece of red meat that is high in fat, like lamb, then you should pair it with a Pinot Noir instead of a Merlot as a Pinot Noir will have a higher acidity and will help to balance out the dish.

 

 

These rules will help you with starting to think about how to create pairings. It often isn't helpful to think about 'red wine and red meat' or 'white wine and fish' because it is actually the structural elements of the wine and food that are what need to be balanced. It is the acidity in white wines that work well with cutting through the fattiness of a piece of fish but you could get that acidity through a Pinot Noir.