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  • Jonathan Winters

Etsu Gin Review

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

One of the better Japanese gins I've tasted, I think most people who don't love a dominantly Juniper flavored gin will find that Etsu lives up to its name - it's the Japanese word for pleasure.

Review Highclere Castle Gin

Made in: Asahikawa distillery, Hokkaido, Japan

Base: Cane Spirit

Copper pot still

43% alcohol/86 proof

Botanicals 8 (possibly more): Juniper, yuzu, green bitter orange peel, coriander, licorice, green tea leaf, angelica root, sansho pepper, cherry blossoms.

Style: Modern gin.

Japanese gin is a fascinating world unto itself, and Etsu is a wonderful example of it, using botanicals not found in other gins from other countries. The Japanese word “Etsu” means pleasure and this one does it’s best to deliver just that. The gin is made with carbon filtered mountain water from one of the most untouched areas of Japan.

Tasting notes

I love gin that doesn’t need a mixer to be enjoyable, but which can be sipped straight or with ice. This is certainly one of those gins that fits the bill. It’s got a unique flavor profile, with a wonderful bitterness, spice, particularly pepper, and the citrus flavor of the green bitter orange zest and yuzu making for a nice combination. Juniper is certainly there, but it’s not one of the more dominant flavors in this gin.

The distillers suggest adding a bit of mint, to help balance the gin (I like fresh herbs in my gin - especially mint and some variety of basil)), but it really doesn’t need it. It’s good both on it’s own and with mixers.

It's certainly smooth and easy to drink with a cool but very dry texture. Balance is good, and you’ll taste hints of the tea, citrus, licorice, and vegetal botanicals with each and every sip. The bite is mild, and it lacks much in the way of astringency.

Scent is floral, citrusy and clean.


I have to say I liked this one. It's easy to drink and well “pleasurable”. In that it certainly lives up to its name. While I loved it straight, this pairs well with a traditional quinine heavy tonic water, but was a bit lost with the Mediterranean style mixer.

A martini made with this and french vermouth came alive, though I found it more enjoyable with a twist than an olive).

This should be a great gin for a creative bartender, and should be great with things like ginger beer, lime, and a touch of bitters. I think staying away from sweet vermouth, or any type of collins mix would be a good choice.

Flavor profile

spice 4/5

herbal: 2/5

Juniper 1/5

Floral 3/5

Citrus 4/5

Heat 1/5

Overall rating: 89. If you don’t like juniper forward gins, you’ll really like the unique aspects of this one. I find it one of the better Japanese entries to the modern gin market.


What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.

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