Raising a glass of something heartwarming is always an appropriate gesture when celebrating a milestone anniversary, so for Italian apple brand Kiku, the idea of developing a trademarked apple gin seemed like the perfect way to mark thirty years in business.
Last week, to coincide with its 30th birthday, the South Tyrolean company unveiled Kiku Apple Gin, a product that has been two years in development in partnership with Roner Distilleries in Tramin and with support from a local tonic water supplier.
For Kiku Apples managing director Jürgen Braun, the gin is not just another extension of the Kiku brand, but also a heartfelt salute to the contribution his own father Luis Braun made in building up a product that is now grown under licence in more than 30 countries and sold in more than 50 national markets around the world.
“It was very important for me to start this special year with something really special,” Braun tells Fruitnet. “It’s about honouring what my dad started thirty years ago when he was in Japan and found Kiku.“
That journey began back in 1990, on a visit to an orchard in the Japan, where Luis Braun discovered a tree with a single branch bearing notably different apples. From that one limb, he was able to crossbreed and cultivate Kiku Fuji 8, a sweet, ruby red variety with an impressive, attractive taste profile.
“Thirty years ago we started from nothing,” recalls Jürgen Braun. “At this time, branding was totally unknown in the apple sector.” Fast forward to today and the company’s desire to forge partnerships and innovate through cooperation remains as strong as ever. “Partnerships and friendships have always been the company’s credo. Today, Kiku collaborates with more than 100 nurserymen, scientists, technicians, advisors, growers and big marketers worldwide.”
The arrival of Kiku Apple Gin certainly reflects that need to partner with others and to innovate, Braun adds. “If you look around the world there are about half a dozen apple gins, but this is the only one which is really branded,” he continues. “It’s great stuff!”
The gin’s major strength, it would appear, is the same quality that defines Kiku apples themselves. “With Kiku Apple Gin we tried to rebuild somehow the honeycore, the watercore which is a quality standard and definitely a marketing claim that a distillery needs. The honeycore is an indicator for ripe fruit and good sugar content, recognised by many as a quality characteristic.”
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