The first time I tried gin, it tasted like a pine tree, and I thought, “What’s that all about?” I assumed it was an acquired taste that I was much too young to appreciate, and only later did I learn that the flavor comes from juniper berries (and not actual pine needles). Nowadays, I’m still not a huge fan of juniper, which is unfortunate, as it tends to be the dominant flavor in gin.
But that isn’t to say I don’t like gin. I do. I just tend to seek out non-traditional kinds that don’t taste like coniferous trees. Nikka Coffey Gin, for example, is full of lemon and yuzu flavors, and it’s something you’ll probably appreciate even if you’ve never looked at a bottle of gin and thought, “I’d really like to drink that.”
Nikka Coffey Gin is the only gin made by Nikka, a Japanese producer mostly known for their scotch-style whisky. This gin has been around since 2017, it costs around $50 a bottle, and right now you’re probably wondering if it has anything to do with coffee. It does not. Nikka’s gin gets its name from something called a Coffey still (a large apparatus used for making alcohol), and all you really need to know about Coffey stills is that they tend to create more delicate spirits.
Pour a glass of Nikka Coffey Gin, and the first thing you’ll smell is a big blast of citrus. This, of course, makes perfect sense, seeing as how the gin is distilled with four kinds of Japanese citrus as well as orange and lemon. Pour yourself a glass, and it’ll taste like someone rubbed your mouth with a fistful of lemon peels - extremely bright, fresh, and slightly bitter.
Unsurprisingly, Nikka Coffey Gin is seriously good for any drinks that incorporate citrus. If you like a twist (as opposed to olives) with your Martinis, this gin is ideal. It’s also great in Negronis - where it complements the bitter orange flavor - and it’ll blend seamlessly into anything with lemon or lime juice, such as a Gimlet or a Southside.
But what if you aren’t a huge fan of gin, generally? You should still check this stuff out. Like I said, I’ve never been a huge fan of that piney taste you get with most gins, but the juniper in this bottle is extremely subtle. Mostly, Nikka Coffey Gin just tastes like a sunny day in a yuzu field irrigated with alcohol - exactly the kind of thing we could all use right about now.