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Craft Gin Made with Shinjuku-Grown Peppers

Courtesy of The Ethical Spirits & Co.
Ne10 craft gin that uses Naito togarashi chili peppers as an ingredient

A craft gin using traditional Naito togarashi chili peppers grown in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo has been released to celebrate the opening of the Tokyu Kabukicho Tower and promote the Kabukicho district, where the high-rise commercial complex stands. The distilled liquor is available at dining establishments in the district.

Naito togarashi chili peppers were popular as a condiment for soba noodles in the Edo period (1603-1868) and used to be widely cultivated in Shinjuku. Compared to other chili pepper varieties like takano-tsume, Naito togarashi is mildly spicy and pungent with a refreshing aroma and umami flavor.

Tokyu Corp., one of the operators of the commercial facility, and local residents approached The Ethical Spirits & Co., a craft gin distillery in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, with the idea of creating a local liquor for visitors to enjoy. The distillery has produced gin that makes use of frequently discarded ingredients such as cacao shells and sake kasu, or pressed sake lees.

Distillery executive Chikara Ono, 28, readily accepted the challenge with the proposal, saying, “The idea of rediscovering the hidden value of Kabukicho [through developing gin] aligns with our philosophy.”

The gin is made with nine spices in addition to Naito togarashi to enhance its lush aroma. The distillery aimed to create a flavor that would be suitable for both cocktails and mealtime drinks, as the Kabukicho district is home to a wide variety of dining establishments, including bars where people mainly enjoy alcoholic drinks and izakaya pubs where people can have meals while drinking.

The name of the gin, Ne10, comes from the symbol for the element neon, Ne, because neon lights illuminate the Kabukicho district at night, and to the fact that 10 spices are used in the gin. Ne10 is pronounced “en-ee-ten.”

The bottles of Ne10 have a label that changes color depending on the angle it is viewed from, expressing the diversity of the district.

“We’ve tried to express [in the gin] what has been cherished in Kabukicho as much as possible. We hope many people will enjoy it,” Ono said.

The gin is also available in bottles. A 375-milliliter bottle costs ¥2,970, including tax. It can be also found at select locations, including Muginooto, a dining establishment in Kabukicho, where a 375-milliliter bottle costs ¥2,640, including tax, and a 200-milliliter bottle costs ¥1,540.

For more information, visit the official website of Ne10 craft gin (https://ne10.ethicalspirits.jp).