Ukiyo unveils rice vodka

Black Irish owner Kirker Greer Spirits has debuted Ukiyo Japanese Rice Vodka, a spirit made with black kōji fungus.

Japanese gin brand Ukiyo has ventured into the vodka category with its Ukiyo Japanese Rice Vodka, which has been crafted on the tropical island of Okinawa. The premium Japanese spirit maker produced the vodka in a distillery that makes the local rice spirit awamori, a liquid indigenous to Okinawa. John Soden, chief commercial officer of Kirker Greer Spirits, said: “We are delighted that there has been a huge demand for the Ukiyo brand. When we launched the two gins in September they sold out ahead of launch, and the same has now happened with our rice vodka despite having doubled our production run in anticipation. "Our customers are really intrigued by these truly unique spirits and feedback from the vodka so far has been phenomenal, not only on the taste profile but on the striking visual impact of the bottles too.” The vodka is made with long-grain indica rice that has been inoculated with black kōji, a fungus which prevents the growth of bacteria during the brewing of the spirit. Black kōji is also used to produce shōchū and awamori, and gives it a slightly sweet, mellow taste. The liquid is distilled into awamori, then redistilled into Ukiyo’s pure rice vodka. The 40% ABV vodka is said to have a delicate fragrant aroma and creamy mouthfeel, and is presented in a smoked glass bottle, with the bottle design 'mirroring the mountains and seas of Japan'. The brand will be available in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, for RRP £35.99 (US$47.70) Kirker Greer Spirits also distributes whiskey-and-stout spirit drink Black Irish. A trademark dispute between Mariah Carey and Black Irish recently resulted in the singer being unable to sell her cream liqueur of the same name in the European Union.