Sweet Potato, or imo, shochus are perhaps the most common in Japan, though they don’t receive quite as much love in the United States. Rice & barley shochus tend to be smoother and easier to drink and since there is no equivalent Americn spirit distilled with sweet potato, imo shochus tend to have stronger flavors than we’re accustomed to from a clear spirit.
Kiccho Hozan, the black koji version, is very popular in NYC among shochu aficionados thanks to the influence of Aya Otaka, the bartender-owner of Shochu + Tapas Aya, who always recommended Kiccho to her customers when she was holding court at the late, great Shochu Bar Hatchan.
Hard to explain why I haven't reviewed Kozuru Kuro sooner. Perhaps in some way I wanted to keep it secret. It's an affordable, luscious black koji imo shochu from Kagoshima. It's the basic product from Komasa Shuzo, which I visited this summer.
Jinkoo, which means “perfect sky”, is a rich, lush imo shochu that has long been available on Japan Airlines (JAL) flights, at least for business class travelers. Which came first? The name or the JAL contract? This imo is distilled from Satsuma sweet potatoes from the Kagoshima Prefecture at the south end of Kyushu Island (Fukuoka is in the north of the island).