Jinzu Gin and tonic

Jinzu Gin

Many of the best (and my favourite) gins have been created by bartenders. Ford’s Gin (Simon Ford), Portobello Road (Jake F Burger), Aviation (Ryan Magarian) and West Winds (Jason Chan).

Jinzu gin was created by British bartender, Dee Davies for Diageo’s Show Your Spirit competition in 2013. Named after a river in Japan, Jinzu is a British gin with a Japanese flavour. Cherry blossom and yuzu are used as botanical ingredients and then Junmai sake is blended with the finished gin.

I caught up with Dee who answered a few questions about how she came up with the idea for Jinzu.

What made you choose gin as your spirit for the competition?

I am a huge gin fan but it took me a little while to understand the complexities when I first tried drinking it. It’s my third favourite spirit after Scottish whiskey and tequila/mezcal. I chose to make a gin because you can push the boundaries further than you can with any other spirit.  Also, I wanted to make a spirit which was a representation of myself, with its head in Britain and its heart in Japan.

How long did it take you to get the botanical recipe right?

Forever! We were working with very difficult and some unknown botanicals. So although we knew we were going to launch in summer 2013 it took until summer 2014 to perfect the recipe.

Why did you choose Junmai sake over other styles?

I chose Junmai as it is the premium of the two basic sake classifications. It would be such a shame to be using so fussy about all of the other ingredients in Jinzu and then just dump in a less than perfect sake. The particular sake we use I chose for its flavour profile, I wanted a sake which was strongly rice flavored.

Did you have a hand in the bottle design?

Yes I did. In fact I’ve had influence in every aspect of Jinzu. With the help of a couple of very talented designers we took the image in my head and turned it into the beautiful bottle we launched.

What’s your favourite way to drink Jinzu?

It depends on the weather. In the summer of course a Jinzu and tonic. I use Fever-tree tonic and a slice of green apple. In the winter try it in this cocktail a mix of Jinzu, almond, amaro, orange flower water and rice milk.


Juniper, coriander and angelica are macerated in the pot still before cherry blossom and Yuzu are added.


There is a mix of familiar and unfamiliar with Jinzu. On the one hand, juniper is still present (thank goodness) so we know it’s gin, but on the other, the unfamiliar (to me) earthiness of the Junmai sake gives a different finish. On the nose citrus from the yuzu together with juniper are evident. On the palate a good juniper and citrus flavour gives way to some floral notes from the cherry blossom. There is some warmth towards the end and it’s here that the sake comes through to create a smooth finish.

How to drink

As usual, I tried Jinzu neat, in a G&T, in a saketini and a negroni. Neat, it’s very smooth and easy to drink. Nothing overwhelming about the spirit at all. It makes decent G&T.

Jinzu gin saketini
Jinzu gin saketini garnished with umboshi

It was brilliant in the saketini, with the addition of more junmai sake in place of vermouth, Jinzu really shone. The only drink where it fell a little flat for me was a Negroni. I think the ratios would have to be changed a little, as the usual 30ml of each ingredient nuked the delicate flavour of the Jinzu gin.

jinzu negroni
Jinzu Negroni

If you are looking for a contemporary gin to experiment with then Jinzu is a great choice.

ABV:  41.3%

Price:  Medium

The Gin Queen

The Gin Queen

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