Following on from the fantastic news that one of our custom spirits brands, Noto Gin, has been awarded a hugely prestigious Gold medal from the International Wine and Spirits Competition, we caught up with brand owner Yukimasa (Yuki) Matsuda to find out more about Noto Gin, and the inspiration behind this award-winning gin.
What were you doing before you owned an award-winning gin brand?
I was employed with several IT companies including Dell and Amazon. I still work with Zendesk, alongside growing the Noto Gin brand.
Why did you want to create a gin brand?
Creating a spirits brand has been a longtime dream of mine. I was also inspired by a US colleague who made the decision to leave the company we were working for to open his own distillery. I could see the attraction of working in a distillery – I’ve always been interested in whisky, but the idea of establishing a whisky distillery from scratch felt overwhelming, so I kept the idea in my head. Around 2017, I realised that gin was becoming a global phenomenon, with many distilleries opening up all over the world. I felt that opening a gin distillery would be more achievable as a first step – and this is where my journey – the journey of Noto Gin - started.
What was your inspiration?
The initial inspiration was Noto cider, called Noto Hiba, With that in mind, I started to explore the possibility of using the botanicals from the Noto peninsula to tell the story of this place – its unique landscape and climate, and encourage more people to visit the Noto peninsula and discover what is so special about it.
So what is so special about the Noto Peninsula?
Warm and cold ocean tides meet at the Noto Peninsula, creating a unique climate which provides the backdrop to a rich diversity of native botanical plants. It’s also off the beaten track, which has allowed some beautiful hidden landscapes to thrive. With a low and aging population, and being ‘hard to reach’ for transportation, these botanicals are often ignored and left in the landscape rather than being harvested as crops and used in production in a way which could bring wealth to the area.
Why did you choose the particular botanicals that are used in the gin?
My key aim was to use botanicals that would create a beautiful gin, but also represent the Noto Peninsula. I selected botanicals which were both accessible and also sustainable for future production.
Why did you choose In the Welsh Wind to develop and distill your gin recipe?
From the first time I visited the In the Welsh Wind website and read about their Custom Branded Spirits service, I knew I wanted to work with this particular distillery to create my own brand. The service they offered was comprehensive and suited my needs. I also felt a strong connection between Wales and the Noto peninsula – hidden and beautiful landscapes, and the links to the ocean.
How easy was the process of working with a distillery to create your gin and your brand?
Joe and Ellen made the process very straightforward. As it was my first time creating a spirit and a brand, there were lots of questions to answer, and issues to resolve, which took time, but Joe and Ellen and all were always helpful and persistent in supporting me to proceed.
What is your favourite way to drink Noto Gin?
As most of the fans do, I like to drink Noto Gin with Soda.
What are your plans for Noto Gin for the future?
My key aim is to ensure that Noto Gin lives on as a brand for the future, and production continues. My dream to is establish my own distillery in Japan, on the Noto Peninsula, where I can continue to produce Noto Gin to the same high standards of In The Welsh Wind Distillery.
We hope you are inspired to try Noto Gin for yourselves – the judges at the IWSC described Noto as “an outstanding example” commenting on the “… heady nose of florals and herbal hints [which] give way to earthy coriander, citrus peel and a touch of caramel. The palate is beautifully balanced and vibrant, displaying a wonderful depth of flavour and lingering spices”
Yuki has recently launched his website in English, so why not hop over and take a peek? In the Welsh Wind are currently exclusive UK stockists of Noto Gin, so you can secure your own bottle by calling in to the distillery or shopping online on our website.