Open Sesame: Beniotome


Brand: Beniotome  (紅乙女)

Distillery: Beniotome Co, Ltd.

Location: Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan

Grain: 60% barley (mugi), 30% rice (kome), 10% sesame (goma)

Koji: unknown

Distillation: unknown

Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)

Price: $$


Tasting Notes

Beniotome claims to be the only spirit in the world distilled from sesame seeds. This is probably true, because, of course, sesame seeds don’t hold a lot of sugar. Fortunately for us, the seeds are not the primary distillate – barley and rice in the mash provide the sugars (and alcohol) while the roasted sesame seeds provide a completely unique drinking experience.

I’ve had nut flavored vodkas and liqueurs – and that’s the only type spirit I can remotely compare this to. Yet that is unkind to Beniotome, which has a complexity and roundness that you don’t find in flavored vodkas. Those tend to be too sweet with little character. That’s precisely the opposite of the Beniotome experience.

The pronounced nose of roasted grains coalesces around toasted sesame, reminiscent of black sesame ice cream. In fact, that’s what I crave as I sniff the glass. The initial taste is surprisingly neutral, but that quickly gives way to a rich sweetness of full-on toasted sesame. A smooth, mellow mouthfeel slides into the finish of peanut butter. It’s completely unique in the shochu world and you’d be hard pressed to find a spirit of any kind that rivals its nuttiness without the sickly sweet of the flavored abominations.


The Verdict: Recommended

I enjoy Beniotome neat or with a touch of water (mizuwari), but I bet it will make a hell of a cocktail in the right hands. Much like the carrot based Akanone, which I initially dismissed as a gimmick, Beniotome has won me over as a legitimate honkaku shochu with all of the character of the traditional grains, but with a singular roasted flavor that provides an unmistakable drinking experience. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t something I’d drink every day, bur rather enjoy as a digestif. Beniotome is a luscious treat. Like a bowl of black sesame ice cream without the guilt.




7 Responses to “Open Sesame: Beniotome”
  1. Phil Heyser says:

    The Beniotome is absolutely delicious, a unique and beautiful character. I make cocktail with it called Shochu Pop.

    Shochu Pop

    Beniotome Shochu
    Fruitlab Jasmine
    Canton Ginger Liqueur
    Bllood Orang Shrub
    Yuzu Soda

    • Stephen says:

      Thanks for the recipe. What are the ratios for the Shochu Pop cocktail?

      • Phillip Heyser says:

        Hi Stephen, here is the breakdown for the Shochu Pop:

        1.5 oz Beniotome
        .4 oz Canton Ginger Liqueur
        .4 oz Koval Jasmine Liqueur (i prefer this over the Fruitlab mentioned previously)
        .3 oz Blood Orange Shrub
        Shake all ingredients except the dry/tart yuzu soda, and strain into collins glass filled with ice
        Top with approx. 2.5 oz of yuzu soda (carbonate 45% Yakami Orchard yuzu juice with 55% good water) and stir to integrate. Express and garnish with long blood orange peel down the side of the glass.

        For the blood orange shrub, I first make a blood orange peel oleo saccahrum, layering blood orange peel with turbinado sugar. The next day press blood oranges, add juice and champagne vinegar (a touch less vinegar than blood orange juice) to the blood orange oleo saccharum, cover and refrigerate for 6 – 12 hours, then stir well with peel to dissolve sugars completely. Use tongs to fish out peel and bottle shrub.

  2. Chie says:

    this lovely bottle is my hidden go-to in my desk when things get too crazy at the office ;)
    the soft toasted sesame wafts through the nose and into the pallet.

    smooth even when consumed straight, I’ve introduced this beauty to my co workers from all over the world (italian, tibetan, chinese, american, puerto rican etc) and has been a definite crowd pleaser for those new to shochu as an example of exemplifying an ingredient in a spirit, and still cozy and comfortable flavor to happily return to again and again.

    a definite favorite for me.

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  1. […] an earthy kome aged in clay pots. Sweet potato, barley, and Awamori can also be found along with Beniotome, the sesame shochu. And yes, they have bottle […]

  2. […] Beniotome, a roasted sesame flavored shochu, has been popular in Japan for a long time. Roasted sesame seeds are added during the fermentation process to a rice and barley mash. The resulting shochu is rich with toasted sesame flavors, completely masking the other grains. It’s popular as a dessert shochu. […]

  3. […] number of shochus available in the US use roasted grains to impart unique flavor characteristics. Beniotome tastes surprisingly like black (roasted) sesame ice cream (without the sugar) while Towari […]

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