On Tuesday 8th of March, our fantastic Aranami Navy Strength Gin celebrates its 3rd birthday. Made from a plethora of different botanicals from around the world, this delicate-but-powerful, Japan-inspired gin has been a real milestone release for us, and we’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate it!
A Great Wave
Aranami means “raging waves”, and our gin tastes as powerful and as fresh as that sounds! Featuring a mighty dragon emerging from raging water on the label’s reverse, both design and flavour are a homage to Japan, and one sip of Aranami will bring you closer to that country’s careful refinement.
Women in Business
You may have noticed - the 8th of March is also International Women’s Day. It’s a great opportunity to give Hidden Curiosities’ founder her due - the company is operated entirely by entrepreneur and businesswoman Jenny, who creates all the recipes and handles each bottle personally. Aranami Navy Strength Gin is entirely her creation, and what better way to celebrate female creativity and acumen than launching her flagship product on International Women’s Day?
Exotic Ingredients, Intensive Process
Compared to a London Dry Gin, the process of making Aranami is a lot more time consuming and requires a lot more work. The gin undergoes three distillations with different botanicals, along with a post-distillation, to give you the perfect blend of flavours, and to balance the 59% ABV with the fragrant herbs and spices. To make the wonderful recipe she imagined, Jenny imports seven different botanicals from all across Japan, giving a truly unique and exotic flavour profile. These include -
- Lavender from Furano, Hokkaido. The most northerly of the home islands in Japan, Hokkaido is famous for its snowfall, its seafood, and its undulating lavender fields. While Hidden Curiosities original gin uses lavender from closer to home, from Surrey’s Mayfield farm, the Murano lavender is an iconic product from this region of Hokkaido, and works beautifully in balancing the other Japanese botanicals.
- Yuzu peel from Shikoku. Yuzu is a famous Japanese citrus fruit with many different culinary uses, from preserves and pickles to desserts. A distinct flavour that lies somewhere between lemon and clementine, Jenny sources her yuzu from the beautiful island of Shikoku, the smallest and sleepiest of Japan’s home islands.
- Kabosu from Ōita prefecture, Kyushu. Closely related to the more famous yuzu, kabosu is a Japanese citrus with an intense sharpness, somewhere between lemon and lime. Ōita, on the southernmost of the home islands, Kyushu, produces over 5,000 tons of this fragrant fruit annually, and even has a mascot dedicated to it. The sharp and perfumed taste is perfect for Aranami.
- Sansho pepper. This fragrant and numbing spice is not a peppercorn at all, but a flower. Grown in Japan in much smaller quantities than the more famous Chinese Sichuan pepper, it has a gorgeous green colour and a flavour all its own, with strong herbaceous notes and the characteristic numbing heat. An unmistakable flavour.
- Shiso leaf. This pungent herb is a ubiquitous taste in its homeland, with its flavour present in snacks, desserts, and as a component in both sushi and tempura. You may even recognise it from a restaurant sushi tray! It gives an incredible spicy and medicinal flavour, with powerful peppery notes.
- Umeboshi. The profoundly sour and salty pickled plum is traditionally a breakfast food in Japan, eaten with rice to wake up the palate. Once tasted, the flavour cannot be forgotten, and there is nothing else with quite the same punch. As well as power, they have an incredible perfume and an inherent sweet muskiness to them. The taste is singular and extremely difficult to compare to anything else, but a perfect component in Aranami.
- Salted Sakura. The iconic Japanese cherry blossom is first salted to preserve its beauty, then used extensively in Japanese cuisine, often as part of a dessert or steeped with tea. The flowers are not only beautiful, they famously only last for a very short period of time. In order to use this beautiful ingredient for Aranami Strength, the flowers must first be extensively rinsed to get rid of the salt. They are then steeped in alcohol, imbuing the liquid with the essence of the blossom, as well as turning it a gorgeous rose pink. This tincture is then added post-distillation, giving an incredible subtle flavour to the gin. Cherry blossom has many connotations in Japanese culture, with meanings of new beginnings, and of life being brief and fleeting.
Cherry blossom season brings crowds of people out into fields and parks all over the country, simply to contemplate the trees. Known as Hanami, the festival means outdoor picnics are a must, and are a social focus for the whole country. There are even weather forecasts that predict when the blossom will emerge in different areas of Japan!
While we’re very proud of our product, we’re still blown away by the support it has had. We are pleased to say that our Aranami Navy strength has won a host of awards, which is testament to the care we take in making it. These include -
- World Gin Awards Best Navy Strength in England 2020
- 2* at the Great Taste Awards 2020 (along with 2* for Hidden Curiosities Original Gin)
- Best Gin at the Industry Choice Awards 2020
- Best Gin at the Berkshire County Show
- Gold in the Women's Wine & Spirits Awards 2020
- The Gin Lord’s Gin of the Year 2019
Apart from the awards, it would be impossible to list all of the kind words Aranami gin has received, but it’s fair to say that the reviews have been wonderful -
- “I’m thrilled to confirm that my expectations have been well and truly smashed. THIS. Is a triumph.” - The Gin Shelf
- “There’s no denying this gin’s power. Hidden Curiosities Aranami is bold, sappy and utterly unforgettable…” - The Spirits Kiosk
- “The finish is long and slow and leaves your mouth tingling for a good minute or so as it fades away. Every sip seems to highlight a different aspect of this gin” - Jenny in Brighton
- “The sheer versatility of this Gin is sublime. Negroni, G&T, Martini, Martinez, Smash, Spritz, or simply over ice - it’s always the star of the show!” - The Gin Lord
Despite Aranami’s strength, its delicacy plays well in a number of drinks. A Negroni is perhaps its natural habitat, and it’s perfect in a Martini or a gin sour too. A gin and tonic is of course a pleasure, and the complexity of the gin is such that it’s fantastic to simply sip neat too. Try serving over ice and garnishing with sliced pear and dried barberries, sansho peppercorns (if you can get your hands on them), or at a pinch, a slice of pink grapefruit. Give our Aranami Navy Strength a go, and we guarantee you won’t make it your last glass.