Botanical Profile: Yuzu
Not quite a lemon, not quite a mandarin and nothing like an orange, there are a few things you could try and compare to yuzu, but nothing that’s really the same. Archie Rose’s Master Distiller Dave Withers spent nine long months speaking to wholesalers and growers in South Australia to source this small, yellow-skinned citrus of Japanese origin for our Archie Rose X Horisumi – Summer gin, and after distilling the bright, fragrant zest, we are exceptionally pleased with the results.
The Australian yuzu market is relatively new, while in Japan it’s an abundant citrus used in everything from drinks to ramen, dressings and desserts. Though the number of growers that exist here is small, the quality of Australian-grown yuzu is brilliant. Combine that with a very short growing period and increasing demand from restaurants, we feel very lucky to have been able to work with this product at all, let alone source over 100kg of it.
Contrary to what you might expect, it’s not the juicy fruit we use when we distil yuzu – but the zest. The zest’s fragrant citrus oils impart the most flavour, and actually lend the distillate a surprisingly ripe, fleshy quality, even though no actual flesh is used. The final product reveals an interesting limey tartness with waxy mandarin-like notes, marrying beautifully with the Horisumi – Summer’s other fruit characteristics (stay tuned for more details when we launch in December). It’s a painstaking manual process removing the zest from hundreds of kilograms of citrus - as our distilling team can attest - but the results speak for themselves.
Using just the skins and zest does leave us with a bunch of leftover juicy fruit, so we dropped the flesh around to our friends at Gelato Messina and PS40 so they could have a play. When product is this hard to source, we didn’t want to see one drop of it wasted – so watch this space.