Black Sugar Jougo
Brand: Jougo (じょうご)
Distillery: Amami-Oshima Shuzo Co., Ltd.
Location: Amami-shi, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan
Grain: 60% kokuto (black sugar) & 40% rice
alcohol content: 24%
Jougo was my first introduction to “black sugar” shochu. Black sugar is a richer, darker Asian version of western brown sugar. It contains molasses and sugar cane. And it’s delicious. If you can find black sugar in your local Asian market, pick some up and experiment with it as a replacement for other sweeteners.
Jougo is smooth, sweet, and rounded. It lacks the complexity of many other shochus, but it’s easy drinking. It’s not as sweet as you’d expect from something distilled from a sugar, which is probably due to the spring water added at the end of the distillation process.
I can usually taste a few different flavors throughout a sip of shochu. I can’t always place the flavors, but I do detect distinct tastes. With Jougo there is very little nose and just a faint hint of molasses on the tongue before retreating to a lightly sugared sweetness. Given the simplicity of Jougo‘s pallette, I don’t mind drinking it neat, which is not my usual style. It is very nice with slightly chilled water as well.
In my experience, black sugar shochus tend to lack the complexity of the imo, awamori, or even mugi shochus, but they are delicious nonetheless. When I’m in the mood to drink without an adventure, I’ll often choose a black sugar bottle and Jougo is definitely the most common, at least in New York City.
(apparently flies like it too – one ended up in my glass as I was writing this)