Exploring Alembic Ono Distillery: 
A Journey from Kanazawa 
- Part 1 -


Exploring Alembic Ono Distillery:
A Journey from Kanazawa
- Part 1 -

#Pick up

中川俊彦/Nakagawa Toshihiko by「Alembic Ohno Distillery」

Since its launch in the summer of 2022, it has won a series of international awards! This month, we feature Alembic Ohno Distillery, a distillery that has been attracting attention as a disruptive force in the Japanese craft gin scene.

writer:Ryoko Kuraishi

Founder Toshihiko Nakagawa.

WSC (International Wine & Spirits Competition) 2023 Gold Outstanding; Trophy for Best Contemporary Gin; SFWSC (San Francisco World Spirits Competition) 2023 Double Gold) ......

A fledgling distillery is winning accolades across the board at global competitions! ...... is the Alembic Ono Distillery located in Ono, Kanazawa City.

Ono-cho, near the port of Kanazawa, is a town that retains the atmosphere of the days when Kitamae ships came and went.

It is a town of fermentation where more than 60 soy sauce and miso warehouses used to stand side by side.

Kanazawa's first craft gin distillery opened here in 2019.

Alembic Ohno Distillery was founded by Toshihiko Nakagawa, who moved to Kanazawa from Tokyo in 2018.

It was established in Ono, where soy sauce warehouses stand side by side and the history of Kitamae-boat traffic can be felt. The large red door is a landmark.

The Origins of Alembic Ono Distillery.

Mr. Nakagawa originally wanted to make craft beer and gained experience at a brewery in Yokohama. However, he says, "I had a desire to make craft gin with beer ingredients someday," he says at .......

I had hopes of someday making craft gin from beer ingredients, but after witnessing the craft spirits movement overseas, I was drawn to the freedom of craft spirits.

The reason I switched from other industries to the food and beverage industry was because I wanted to create something that would enhance the dining experience, and I felt that gin had more potential for that than beer.

Craft beer is a bit heavy to pair with food.

In this respect, a food alcohol that can change its expression depending on how it is drunk has a high affinity with food, and seemed to have potential as a food alcohol.

I was worried because I had a strong passion for beer, but I decided to focus on "food" and turned my attention to craft gin.

Alembic Gin HACHIBAN Barreled 2023 will be released next spring. Alembic Gin HACHIBAN" will be bottled after six months in Madeira wine barrels from Portugal. Enjoy this barrel-aged gin, which is not yet popular in Japan. 8,800 yen (tentative price).

The goal was to create a craft gin that was more food-friendly, so that people would not get tired of drinking it while eating.

He started developing the recipe by reading and studying literature on gin and botanicals from overseas.

Through an acquaintance, he met Hideaki Kito, a famous blender at the former Fuji Gotemba Distillery (now ”Goto Tsubaki Distillery”), and became his apprentice.

After comparing craft gins in Japan, I found that each distillery uses local ingredients as key botanicals, and each gin expresses the individuality of the distiller.

That is interesting in its own way, but when I thought about 'pairing it with a meal,' I thought it would be good to have a well-balanced overall taste and aroma with less sharp edges.

After conducting a test distillation based on the 25 recipes created in this way, the flavor that met Mr. Nakagawa's expectations was recipe No. 8.

The product name "Alembic Dry HACHIBAN" is derived from the number of the prototype recipe.

HACHIBAN, with its impressive fresh citrus aroma reminiscent of grapefruit, is composed of eight botanicals: juniper berry, coriander seed, cacao nib, lemon peel, orange peel, chromophyll, angelica root, and cassia.

This is then brewed with Hakusan subterranean water, which is also used by a nearby soy sauce brewery.

Gin to Pair with Myoga.

Recommended drinking styles are on the rocks, with soda, and lukewarm.

There is another way to drink heated sake, which is to cool it down, but Nakagawa recommends this "kan-yakimashi" style. Nakagawa recommends this method, which he says accentuates the aroma of the botanicals.

For garnish, I added a slice of dried orange. Lime would be too citrusy.

If you want to match it with food, use Japanese condiments. Myoga, shiso leaves, etc., bring out the clean aroma.

As a craft gin from Kanazawa, a rice-producing region, the company plans to try its hand at creating an original base spirit using sake lees from a local brewery.

They also plan to try their hand at flavored drums and non-alcoholic spirits using the botanicals used in gin.

In the center is the standard Alembic Gin HACHIBAN. On the left is Alembic Gin HACHIBAN Gunsei Strength. Limited to 800 bottles, 6,500 yen.

Alembic's Culinary Community Supporting Craftsmanship: Introducing "OPENSAUCE"

Here is a profile of Ms. Nakagawa.

Mr. Nakagawa has had a unique career, moving from the apparel industry to a video production company, and after spending a long time in the creative industry, he stepped into the food industry.

Influenced by his father, who was a skilled Western-style chef, he had a longing for the world of food, even though he went on to work in a different industry.

It was Mr. Masaki Murasawa, the owner of "Helmsdale", a Scottish pub in Minami Aoyama, who inspired me to enter the world of alcohol.

It was here that I came into contact with the culture and worldview of Western-style alcohol, and I became interested in sake as part of the dining experience.

My entrance into the food and beverage industry was through craft beer, which was in its infancy at the time. He joined a beer company in Yokohama that handled everything from production to management of beer pubs, and while working in the service department, he took time off to learn production in the brewing department.

After that, he moved to another brewery and began preparing to start his own business.

Just as I was preparing to open a small brewpub of about 300 liters in the Oiso area where I lived at the time, an old acquaintance of mine who had moved to Kanazawa told me that he wanted to do something that was possible in this day and age by combining food and agriculture with cutting-edge technology," he said. In the beginning, Kanazawa had a long history of food history and agriculture.

Kanazawa has a long history and unique culture of food, and is rich in nature surrounding food ingredients.

In addition, food creators such as toji (master brewers), farmers, breweries, and chefs have gathered around OPENSAUCE, and it seemed like the perfect place to start a new business.

Following a recommendation, he intuitively decided to move to Kanazawa and established a distillery in 2019, starting production in August 2022.

In the second half, we report on OPENSAUCE, the edgy food community behind Alembic Ohno Distillery!

Continue to Part 2.


Alembic Ohno Distillery
4-Ha17, Ono, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, 920-0856, Japan