FoodEx Japan started today and runs through Friday. It is held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. A few highlights included tasting through Finland’s Kyro Distillery’s portfolio. I had never tried a single malt rye whisky that had not been aged in a barrel yet, the Juuri. Lacking the tannins from the barrel it was brighter than I anticipated. Likewise, I had never tried a gin that had been aged in a barrel, Koskue, which was more complex than most gins. However, the barrel aging was only three months so the toasty notes were light and didn’t overpower the botanicals in the gin.
The Verso rye is aged in small American barrels for six months and is well-balanced. A little spicy and sweet and not too overpowering. The Napue gin (not aged in a barrel) was soft and fragrant. Very approachable and while lovely on its own, I imagine it would be seductive in a martini. The gin is made with 16 botanicals, 12 dried and 4 fresh. The barrels used are made with American oak and are smaller barrels, 32 or 64 liters.
I love the packaging and design and imagine that this brand could do well in Japan. I am told it will be sold at Hasegawa Liquors. I will update this post when I hear where it is sold retail in Tokyo. I met Mikael, Mikko, and Miika at the stand. If you go by, ask for Mi-kun (as all of their names start with Mi-), and tell them Yukari sent you. The distillery is brand new, only ten months’ old. I see the future as very good for them.
Kyro Distillery Company
Kitayatsu Ham from Nagano was another highlight. The cured ham, sausage, and pates were all lovely. The Nagano Antenna Shop has recently opened in Ginza and I am told that their products are sold there, so will look for it there.
These konnyaku chips were great and only have the calories of the seasonings as konnyaku has zero calories. Flavors are pepper, chili pepper, oden, and ume (tart apricot). Okabayashi Shokuhin also had a thin sliced konnyaku that was nice when cooked up with soy sauce.
The event hall is huge and there is more than one can see in a day. I wish I had more time to visit the sake, shochu, and other importers. There are some great speakers in the upcoming days including Kumiko Ninomiya Sensei of Ajinomoto, chef Nozaki of Waketokuyama, and chef Kondo of Koenji Sanukiya.