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A KI NO BI Kyoto Gin Masterclass held by Mr. Marcy Sakuma

By Zara Flavia Dmello

Last Monday evening on February 12 at Ekaa, Mumbai, a select group of enthusiasts embarked on a journey into the world of KI NO BI Kyoto Dry Gin. The mastermind behind this exquisite experience was none other than Mr. Marcy Sakuma, a seasoned mixologist with a decade-long legacy in some of London’s most prestigious bars and restaurants.

Mr. Sakuma’s foray into the art of gin production began in 2017 when he joined The Kyoto Distillery. Fuelled by his insatiable curiosity for flavour, aroma, and composition, he immersed himself in the meticulous craft of KI NO BI production. Three years later, in 2020, he assumed a managerial role at the brand’s home, The House of KI NO BI, showcasing a natural progression in his illustrious career.

As the global advocacy manager for KI NO BI, Mr. Sakuma plays a pivotal role in elevating the brand’s presence on a global scale. This includes delivering masterclasses, orchestrating bar guest shifts, and curating activations that offer a glimpse into the unparalleled quality and craftsmanship behind KI NO BI.

Image from Ki No Bi

KI NO BI, translated as “The Beauty of the Seasons,” is a testament to the seamless fusion of tradition and innovation. Crafted in small batches in the heart of Kyoto, the gin draws inspiration from the pristine nature and timeless traditions of the region. Mr. Sakuma guided the attendees through the brand’s rich history, providing insights into the carefully selected Japanese botanicals that make KI NO BI a true masterpiece.

The tasting session unfolded with a symphony of flavors, each note carefully orchestrated to capture the essence of Kyoto. The Kyoto Dry Gin, bottled at 45.7% ABV, is distilled from a base of premium rice spirit and infused with eleven meticulously chosen botanicals. From the vibrant zest of yellow yuzu to the subtle warmth of akamatsu wood chips, the delicate essence of bamboo, the refined elegance of gyokuro tea, and the invigorating zest of green sanshō berries, each ingredient played a role in creating a gin of unparalleled terroir.

The master distillers at KI NO BI go beyond scientific intricacies, embracing the time-honored art of blending. Botanicals are categorized into six distinct elements – Base, Citrus, Tea, Herbal, Spice, and Fruity & Floral. Each element undergoes individual distillation before being expertly harmonized to achieve the hallmark flavor that defines KI NO BI.

Image from Ki No Bi

The tasting note for KI NO BI painted a vivid picture of the gin’s character. Crystal clear, reminiscent of Kyoto’s sacred mountains, the gin presented a tantalizing aroma of yuzu, mingling with the subtle allure of sanshō. Juniper, a gracious host, accentuated the quintessentially Japanese botanicals, while a hint of ginger root imparted a gently warming, spicy finish. The delicate nuance of gyokuro tea lingered, creating a harmonious and unforgettable experience.

But what were the unique insights one could gain from attending this exclusive gin masterclass with Mr. Sakuma? Firstly, the event offered a rare opportunity to delve into the mind of a true artisan, someone who honed his craft in the bustling bartending scene of London before venturing into the meticulous world of gin production. The attendees not only tasted the result of Mr. Sakuma’s dedication but also gained a deeper understanding of the thought process and expertise that goes into crafting each bottle of KI NO BI.

Image from Ki No Bi website

Moreover, the masterclass provided a cultural journey through the botanicals, showcasing how the essence of Kyoto is intricately woven into the fabric of KI NO BI. Participants discovered the significance of each botanical, from the geographical origins of yellow yuzu to the revered Uji region’s gyokuro tea. It was not just a gin tasting; it was a cultural exploration, a sensorial journey through the seasons of Kyoto.

Mr. Sakuma’s KI NO BI Gin Masterclass was more than an evening of luxurious indulgence; it was an odyssey into the heart of craftsmanship and tradition. Attendees left not just with a taste of Kyoto but with a profound appreciation for the meticulous artistry that defines KI NO BI, a gin that truly encapsulates the beauty of the seasons. As the glasses were raised and toasts exchanged, it was evident that this exclusive experience had left an indelible mark, much like Mr. Sakuma’s legacy in the world of spirits.

Know more about Ki NO BI here

Zara Flavia Dmello

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