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  • Writer's pictureChomp Magazine

Sakura Japanese Craft Gin Officially Brings Hanami, the Japanese Sakura Festival, to Thailand

Updated: Aug 9, 2023


Sakura Japanese Craft Gin
Sakura Japanese Craft Gin

A new Japanese craft gin named 'Sakura' has recently arrived in Bangkok, and it promises to enhance gin and cocktail lovers' cocktail-drinking experience. To commemorate its launch in Thailand, United Beverage Thailand joined forces with Ichiro Inc. and Senjo Brewery to organise the 'Masterclass by Sakura Japanese Craft Gin' at ASAI Bangkok Chinatown on Thursday, 20th July 2023. This event invited top bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts in Bangkok to witness the exquisite craftsmanship of Sakura Gin.


Takashi Kurogouchi, the 6th Generation Owner and Brewery Master of Senjo
Takashi Kurogouchi, the 6th Generation Owner and Brewery Master of Senjo

Senjo Brewery, founded in 1866, is situated in Ina City, Nagano prefecture - the home of the Takato Castle Town that thrived for 700 years before the Meiji era. The brewery is renowned for producing exceptional sake. With a family history steeped in the sake industry, Takashi Kurogouchi, the 6th Generation Owner and Brewery Master of Senjo, decided to venture into something new.


Kurogouchi explaining why he chose sakura as one of the main ingredients
Kurogouchi explaining why he chose sakura as one of the main ingredients

The sakura tree holds a special place in Japanese culture, with its national tree status and the annual Hanami festival dedicated to its beauty. The connection that his people have with the tree inspired Kurogouchi to use sakura as the main ingredient. Plus, Ina City, Nagano prefecture is the potential of the area, blessed with the Sakura tree, particularly the Takato Kohigan Zakura breed. There are around 5,000 to 6,000 trees of this type of Sakura in Takato itself, and more than 3,000 trees growing in and around the original site of the castle. This led him to experiment with creating a gin that truly captures the essence of Japan.


When it comes to the scent of sakura, many people assume that the flower is the source. However, it is the leaf that produces the aroma. Experts known as "Sakura Mori" are responsible for caring for sakura trees and determining the ideal time for harvesting.


Kurogouchi explaining about Sakura Japanese Craft Gin's distillation processes
Kurogouchi explaining about Sakura Japanese Craft Gin's distillation processes

Once the leaves have been harvested, the brewery uses vacuum distillation in stainless steel to extract the scent. This method involves heating the leaves to a boiling point of approximately 50 degrees Celsius, lower than the boiling point of around 78 degrees Celsius typically used in regular pressure distillation. By using this lower temperature, the freshness of the Sakura leaves is better preserved.


Masaki Matsuzaki, Co-founder of Ichiro Inc.
Masaki Matsuzaki, Co-founder of Ichiro Inc.

The event began with a masterclass led by Masaki Matsuzaki, Co-founder of Ichiro Inc., and Takashi Kuroguchi, President and 6th Generation Owner of Senjo Brewery. During the class, guests learnt about the fascinating story behind the creation of Sakura Japanese Craft Gin.


Adeline Yeo-Matsuzaki, the artist behind Sakura Japanese Craft Gin's label
Adeline Yeo-Matsuzaki, the artist behind Sakura Japanese Craft Gin's label

Sakura Japanese Craft Gin cannot be complete without Adeline Yeo-Matsuzaki, Singapore's first female finger-painting artist, who created the original artwork used for Sakura Gin's label. Adeline has accomplished seven successful solo exhibitions since 2010 and has sold numerous paintings to both individual collectors and corporate clients.


Yeo-Matsuzaki painting her work live
Yeo-Matsuzaki painting her work live

After relocating to Japan in 2018, Adeline found inspiration in the culture, people, and food and drink. As a result, Adeline decided to collaborate with like-minded breweries and developed a unique Adeline Art Label Liquor Collection featuring her preferred beverages.


Yeo-Matsuzaki posing next to her finished work
Yeo-Matsuzaki posing next to her finished work

After the master class, Yeo-Matsuzaki performed a live painting. She didn't plan ahead about what she wanted to draw for this event. She only made this one-and-only art piece from her feeling and personal perception of Bangkok.


The painting giving ceremony
Yeo-Matsuzaki, Thiemjan Skulpanich, the complete painting, Matsuzaki Senior and Matsuzaki Junior

The completed painting now belongs to Matsuzaki's father. He has given permission for the brand to use the painting as the label for their new sake. The sake will feature the name of Thiemjan Skulpanich, who is the owner of United Beverage Thailand, the official distributor of Sakura Japanese Craft Gin in Thailand. Now, gin and cocktail lovers can savour the beauty of sakura from Sakura Japanese Craft Gin without leaving Bangkok.

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