Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are an enduring symbol of Japan. Their springtime bloom lasts only a few short weeks, during which the delicate petals flare brilliantly pink. Cherry blossoms also adorn the bottle of Horisumi Spring, Archie Rose Distilling Co.’s gin for the season. The intricate design also features a hare (usagi), which is an ancient Japanese symbol of fertility and a talisman for good fortune.

The inner-west gin company has collaborated with tattoo artist Horisumi (Kian Forreal) twice already this year on the distiller’s enormously popular autumn and winter editions. Will Edwards, founder of Archie Rose, uses each design as inspiration for the gin-making process.

“We received the artwork from Kian,” Edwards says. “It was covered in cherry blossoms, which actually captures the very nature of distillation: the aromas and flavours you get from a fresh botanical. But, from a flavour perspective, it just didn’t work.”

After some botched, bitter attempts at cherry-blossom infusion, Edwards and his team began experimenting with other fragrances of Japanese spring. They discovered that chrysanthemum can provide a pleasant musk, which is balanced by the slight sweetness of red shiso. For the gin’s distinctly citric flavour, Edwards used a rare crop of yuzu leaf from South Australia. “I believe we are the first people to use this in a distilling process,” Edwards says.

When mixing a gin and tonic, Horisumi Spring pairs best with a mandarin twist or a wedge of rockmelon. For something more complex, Edwards and his team have been using it with yuzushu (a citrus liqueur), elderflower and fresh apple.

As with previous Horisumi releases, the first 200 bottles sold came in a custom-made Japanese furoshiki wrap featuring the individual bottle number and spring kanji. All but one of these have been sold, and we have the last one to give away to a Broadsheet Sydney subscriber.

The competition is now closed. The winner is Karin W.