The Kyoto Distillery surprised us this past weekend with the sudden release of Ki No Bi "Edition K." Currently only available at Amazon JP, Edition K brings Ki No Bi into the cask-aged gin realm once again.
I say once again since we've already seen some cask-aged gins come out of the distillery: Ki Noh Bi. This Edition K however is a slightly different beast, as this time around it's been aged in ex-Scotch casks. But not just any boring Scotch! Scotland's Kilchoman Distillery, an Islay distillery, is making the nation's only single farm, single malt Scotch. Ki No Bi Edition K is aged in those ex-Kilchoman single malt casks.
So, the sales pitch for Ki No Bi Edition K is that on top of the IWSC Trophy-winning Ki No Bi formula, we should get a certain smokiness one expects of an Islay malt. This is supposed to bring a new layer of depth and complexity to our gin. Is that what we really get though?
By the way, for those wondering how this came to be, the answer is that the Kyoto Distillery's parent company also imports Kilchoman into Japan.
Ki No Bi Edition K Review
The Kyoto Distillery recommends Edition K be served as a highball, on-the-rocks, or in a Martini. Since I don't have any decent vermouth on hand at the moment, I went with on-the-rocks to complement trying it straight.
Nose: It's Ki No Bi alright, with lots of citrus from the lemon and yuzu. That peat takes things forward into sweeter fruits like banana, kiwi, and lassi. Later, there's a touch of leather. My guess about the peat level was 30ppm, but it looks like Kilchoman themselves are saying 20ppm. In any case, it's easy to see why they recommend a highball instead of tonic for this one.
Palate: It's a tad hot for a 46% abv gin, I must say. My on-the-rocks version was definitely more mellow after a few minutes. The herbs and spice come first, namely the ginger, sansho, and shiso. Then moving to juniper, it's rounded off by a citrusy body. Compared to standard Ki No Bi though--which I have handy for "reference purposes only" of course--that citrus does not stick around very long.
Finish: Here's where you'll get most of that peat, as it comes in quite quickly after the palate wraps up. We close things out with green tea.
Price paid: 8100 yen
Once again the Kyoto Distillery's experiments are paying off for us. The signature Ki No Bi notes of sansho, green tea, and yuzu remain prevalent, but they sit happily behind a veil of peaty smokiness that we don't find very often in gins. But to be completely honest? Despite the juniper, I couldn't stop thinking of mezcal the entire time I was nosing this.
It's difficult to recommend this for everyone considering the ultra-premium pricing, but for a fan of Ki No Bi this is a unique offering that shouldn't be missed.
Whiskey Richard is the founder of nomunication.jp, and has been saying he has lived in Japan for ten years for the past four years. He enjoys drinking basically anything except straight-up Campari.