Do You Yuzu? What It Is and How to Drink It

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Getting to know yuzu, Japan’s best-kept liqueur secret

Yuzuri yuzu liqueur

Little known in North America, yuzu is a fragrant Japanese fruit that can be described as the love child of a lemon and a mandarin with traces of grapefruit. It’s harvested just once a year in the fall, is the tangy flavor in ponzu sauce, and is the key ingredient in the somewhat-rare yuzu liqueurs that are have recently been introduced in the U.S.

The latest entry to the market is Yuzuri, a handcrafted liqueur from Soh Spirits, the distillers of Kikori Whiskey. Made from freshly harvested Japanese yuzu, rice, and mountain water from the Japanese island of Kyushu, Yuzuri utilizes the entire yuzu – the peel, fruit, and juice – to strike a citrusy balance between acidity and sweetness. The process includes handpicking the yuzu and delicately cutting and squeezing each piece by hand. The whole yuzu fruit is then blended with pure rice spirits and sugar (made from Japan-grown sugar beets and Australian sugarcane) and steeped for 30 days.

“I’ve always loved the culture and hospitality of Japan, along with their attention to quality,” says Ann Soh Woods, the founder of Los Angeles-based Soh Spirits. “I appreciate the dedication of the chefs, brewers and master distillers who showcase the many exotic and delicate flavors unique to Japan. Yuzu has been quietly used by local and international chefs for decades to complement the flavors of many dishes.”

The yuzu-based liqueur is a pleasantly versatile spirit that can be enjoyed neat or on ice, or mixed into cocktails. For a particularly tasty introduction to yuzu liqueur cocktails, try a Yuzuri Sour.

Yuzuri (750ml/30% ABV) retails for$45 in the U.S. online at Hi-Time Wine Cellars, and at select retailers.

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