Review: Yuzuri Yuzu Liqueur

Yuzu is the “it citrus” of our time. Today we look at a new liqueur from Japan’s Soh Spirits — makers of Kikori Whiskey — which is made from freshly harvested yuzu, rice and mountain water from Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu, Japan.

Some production details:

At the soul of Yuzuri is the yuzu fruit, an exotic and fragrant citrus best described as the love child of lemon and mandarin with traces of grapefruit. The use of the entire yuzu – the peel, fruit and juice – strikes a perfect balance between acidity and sweetness which makes Yuzuri a rare and versatile liqueur that can be enjoyed on its own neat or on ice, or mixed into a variety of cocktails.

The process of making Yuzuri includes handpicking the yuzu – harvested just once a year in the fall – and delicately cutting and squeezing each piece by hand. The whole yuzu fruit is then blended with pure rice spirits and sugar – made from locally grown sugar beets and Australian sugarcane – and allowed to thoroughly steep for 30 days. Like Kikori, the locally grown rice and pristine mountain waters of Kumamoto lie at the heart of Yuzuri, both lending a smooth drinkability and balanced flavor.

While I think of yuzu fruit as extremely bright, juicy, and citrusy, Yuzuri is a different animal. The nose is muted, a lemon and graprefruit note that is filtered through notes of bamboo, thyme, and cloves. This takes the spirit’s aroma in a different direction, one dominated by herbs and spice instead of citrus itself. On the palate, Yuzuri takes that herbaceous character and runs it through a bitter lemon peel filter, massively damping the sweetness one expects from a citrus liqueur. The finish is surprisingly bitter, with lemon peel catching on the throat as it fades.

While perhaps not as versatile and straightforward as Iichiko, it’s worth a look for cocktails that have both a citrus element and a more savory edge. A splash is sublime in a margarita.

60 proof.

B+ / $45 / yuzuriliqueur.com

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