Waitrose says konnichiwa to a new tipple as it becomes the first UK supermarket to introduce a gin made in Japan. Roku, a craft gin from Japanese distillery The House of Suntory, launches into shops this week as the thirst for the popular spirit shows no signs of slowing. With sales of gin at Waitrose up 30%, the retailer is constantly searching for new styles to meet demand. They looked to the team of expert drink makers in Osaka as they are also the distillers of award winning Japanese whiskies* popular with their shoppers.

Roku means six in Japanese and the new craft gin boasts the same number of Japanese botanicals including two styles of green tea (Sencha and Gyokuru), Yuzu, Sanshō pepper along with Sakura (cherry blossom) flower and leaf, which is synonymous with Japan. Each botanical has been harvested in accordance with the concept of 'shun' - which means they are only harvested when they reach their peak flavour.

The signature way to serve Roku is with ice, tonic and then six slithers of fresh ginger instead of the usual lemon.

John Vine, Waitrose Spirits Buyer, comments, “We are proud of our range of British gin but there is still room to experiment with drinks from further afield. Japanese whisky once raised eyebrows but now wins awards and sits happily alongside established Scottish brands in the UK. We are confident that Roku will be popular with gin fans and it's just the tonic for showing off to guests.

"The House of Suntory has pushed the botanical boundaries. The six more unusual Japanese ingredients sit alongside those we are more familiar with including juniper berries, cinnamon and cardamom."

The drink is presented in a stylish hexagonal bottle which fits the trend for designer gin collections to be displayed with pride at home - not hidden away at the back of the cupboard. The embossed bottle is complemented by a label printed on traditional 'washi' paper.

The launch follows the announcement last week that Waitrose has been named 'Supermarket of the Year' at the Icons of Gin Awards.