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PREMIUM

Distilled – Limited edition Roku gin for spring

Our latest round-up of trends from the top shelf, including a limited edition of House of Suntory's Roku gin to celebrate that spring is here, the recipe for a Batanga and an overview of ouzo.

Japanese gin blossoms

To herald the start of spring, House of Suntory has launched a limited edition of its Roku gin, inspired by the sakura flower and Japan’s famous hanami cherry blossom festivals. Roku Sakura Bloom Edition (Alc 43%) balances six Japanese botanicals – sakura flowers and leaves, sencha tea, gyokuro tea, yuzu peel and sansho pepper – with eight traditional gin botanicals including juniper. Botanicals are harvested in season, embracing the Japanese concept of shun: the moment when nature is at its freshest. ‘Shun is a concept unique to Japanese culture. It captures something magical, a moment when the natural world is at its most energised,’ explains James Bowker, global advocacy manager of Beam Suntory. ‘Roku Sakura Bloom Edition is an expression of that concept – a bright and fresh-flavoured gin containing botanicals harvested at the peak of their vibrancy and taste.’ Fragrant aromas, with notes of fresh flowers, red berries and cherries, lead to a soft and elegant palate layered with fresh red cherries, strawberry and Cherry Drops candy notes, plus pink grapefruit citrus, sansho spice and a hint of saltiness on the floral finish. Try it in a G&T garnished with a slice of pink grapefruit. £31/70cl Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose


What is… ouzo?

An anise-flavoured spirit made in Greece and Cyprus, ouzo is distilled from the grape must that’s left over from winemaking. It’s typically drunk as an aperitif. Dating back to the Middle Ages, anise spirits were used across the Mediterranean for medicinal purposes. Their fresh, liquorice-like flavour comes from a compound called anethole – also found in fennel seeds and star anise – which is soluble in alcohol but not in water, meaning that when it’s added to cold water it forms a microemulsion that turns the liquid in the glass cloudy.


What to drink now… Batanga

This Mexican twist on the Cuba Libre cocktail, replacing rum with tequila, was created in 1961 by Don Javier Delgado Corona, owner of La Capilla cantina in the town of Tequila. Don Javier had a large iron utility knife that was used to cut everything from limes and chillis to avocado and tomato, and he used this to stir his drinks, imparting a unique flavour to his Batangas. The cocktail was reportedly named after one of La Capilla’s generously proportioned customers: batanga is Spanish slang for ‘thick in the middle’. If mixing one at home, try it with the balanced and layered El Tequileño Blanco (Alc 38%, £20.40-£27/50cl House of Malt, Master of Malt, Spirits Kiosk, Tipples of Manchester). Made at La Guarreña distillery near La Capilla, the brand was founded in 1959 and was Don Javier’s tequila of choice for this drink.

Ingredients: 60ml blanco tequila, 15ml lime juice, 90ml Coca-Cola

Glass: Collins

Garnish: Salt rim

Method: Put all of the ingredients in a salt-rimmed glass filled with ice. Stir with a knife to mix.


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