Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

You’ve been missing out on this incredible Japanese gin

Of the many flavored gins out there, one rises above. Here's why you should be sipping Awayuki Gin this spring

After having carved out an esteemed reputation in the whisky category, Japanese distillers are now taking over the genre of gin. The clear spirit, beloved for its aromatics and made with a real sense of terroir, is reaching new heights thanks to brands like Awayuki. The strawberry gin in particular is one of the best flavored gins we’ve encountered, bursting with freshness and spring-like flavors.

This isn’t just any run-of-the-mill gin treated to some additives, either. It’s made from a rare strawberry grown in Japan, specifically the Awayuki strawberry grown in the Nara Prefecture. An abundance of pink and white strawberries goes into every batch, picked at what the brand describes as the peak moment of ripeness. Awayuki strawberries are rare and beautiful, with a delicate persimmon color (or cherry blossom pink, as the locals tend to say), white flesh, and a lovely fragrance.

A bottle of Awayuki Strawberry Gin.
Facebook/Awayuki Gin

All of those qualities make it a great berry to infuse gin with. The candy-sweet flavors work well with the botanicals of the gin. Only select farms in Japan are allowed to grow these coveted strawberries, making the gin all the more special. Anybody who’s tasted fresh wild strawberries in late spring knows how good they can be, especially compared to the supermarket-acquired ones that are so often grown out of season and lacking in flavor. These strawberries take the in-season freshness we love here in the states every May and June to a next level, and that striking flavor is preserved beautifully in the gin.

Looking at this Japanese gin, you’d never know it was flavored. Awayuki is clear and seems like standard bottling until you open the cap and the strawberry aromas burst out. Maybe it’s been a long winter and we’re craving those spring flavors. Maybe this is one of the better flavored gins on the market. We think it’s an even combination of the two.

It’s not uncommon for gin to offer some harshness on the palate, whether it’s a botanical bill that doesn’t quite line up or an underlying astringency. That’s not the case here, as the strawberries seem to tie everything together. This is one you pour into a glass and bury your nose in, not unlike a good riesling.

How to enjoy

The Bee’s Knees cocktail
Image used with permission by copyright holder

First and foremost, try this stuff neat. When it’s served on its own, slightly chilled, you’ll really be able to enjoy the harmonious flavors and radiant berry flavors. To maximize that intense and well-rounded flavor, we suggest going neat or hitting it with a little unflavored tonic water. If you do opt to mix it, try a Bee’s Knees cocktail (go light on the honey syrup given the gin’s inherent sweetness) or a Tom Collins. A gin fizz is a great way to go as well, with the egg white tying all the flavors together, from the tartness of the lemon to the juniper and floral qualities of the gin.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
Everyone loves a Manhattan — but you should try it with rum
Try a Manhattan with a twist
Manhattan

When it comes to classic cocktails, few are more iconic than the Manhattan. Popular since the 1800s, the combination of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters has been delighting whiskey enthusiasts for decades and has seen a real resurgence in recent years as whiskey mania has swept the cocktail scene.

But like all good cocktails, the Manhattan is open to variations -- from using different types of vermouth to adding a dash of absinthe, there are plenty of ways to change up this classic stirred drink. However, one option that might sound sacrilegious to some but is well worth a try is ditching the whiskey all together, and replacing it with rum instead.
How to make a Rum Manhattan
The rum Manhattan combines 2 ounces of dark rum with 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, which is stirred together over ice. You can add a dash of either Angostura or orange bitters as you prefer, and strain into a cocktail glass before garnishing with either an orange twist or the traditional cherry.

Read more
Check out these 3 award-winning rums out of Puerto Rico from new brand Sonrisa
Who doesn't love new rum options?
sonrisa puerto rico rum  family alternate horizontal 2

Today sees the launch of a new spirit from Puerto Rico: Sonrisa rum. The brand offers three styles of rum: the aged Reserva, the gold Oro Especial, and the silver Platino, which are currently available in restaurants, bars, and retail stores in Florida, Nevada, and New York. It's also available in 32 states via a new e-commerce platform that enables online ordering and delivery to your doorstep.

The rums have already been recognized with awards at the 2024 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, including a gold medal for the Reserva with its notes of cacao and clove, and a silver medal each for the Oro Especial — with notes of caramel and marshmallow — and Platino with notes of cane and vanilla.

Read more
Legendary distillery House of Suntory releases 4 new Japanese whiskies
Try one of House of Suntory's new Japanese whiskies
house of suntory 2024 series hos tsukuriwake  family

Japanese whisky is all the rage right now, and brands like the House of Suntory are bringing a taste of Japan's finest spirits to the world. The brand recently released a new 2024 Tsukuriwake series, offering four bottles that showcase the variety of whiskies being made across Japan.

The range is overseen by Suntory's Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo, making use of unusual ingredients and wood for a truly special whisky experience. “Tsukuriwake translates to ‘artisanship through a diversity of making,’ which is truly what the 2024 Series represents with each of the four liquids included,” said Fukuyo. “While past releases from the collection focused mainly on the details of the casks, the 2024 Tsukuriwake Series emphasizes the elements of whisky making, such as ingredient selection, peat, and cask. This series is the ultimate showcase of the incredible diversity of choices that goes into the making of Yamazaki and Hakushu whiskies.”

Read more