Japan now has its first non-alcoholic gin, and it’s named NEMA. NEMA gets its name from Yokohama’s Bar Nemanja, which is itself named after Serbian violinist Nemanja Radulović.
Seedlip set off the non-alcoholic distilled spirit trend. Worldwide more and more younger folks are turning away from the bottle, and Japan is no exception — a 2016 government survey showed that only 10.9% of males aged 20-29 reported habitual drinking (defined by drinking more than one unit 3+ times a week). Economics seem to be one of the primary drivers for this, with many people simply unable to afford going to bars.
At 3200 yen per bottle, it’s unclear how NEMA will address that particular. We also know that its main botanical is rose from Nagano prefecture’s Asaoka Rose garden, where the spirit is also being made. Notably, since it contains no alcohol at any point during distillation, they didn’t need to get a spirits distillation license. Steam distillation is also used to create essential oils from rose petals, so there’s a good chance Asaoka Rose already know their way around a still.
It may still be a bit pricey, but there is demand lurking somewhere for liquor-like spirits that don’t contain any alcohol — Seedlip themselves did a worldwide pop-up bar promotion last year. While NEMA here only launched a few weeks ago, it’s currently sold out even from the official webstore.
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