Shochu Reviews...

tominohozan
Like so many imo shochus, this one has that earthy nose. Fresh dirt. But there’s an added element here. A hint of wild flowers. What makes it unique from other imo shochus is the yellow koji, which gives it much more floral aroma and palate. Tomi No Hozan is even drinkable neat. A buttery mouth feel accompanies the pleasantly sweet floral taste. Oyuwari (hot water) really opens up the flavor, tasting almost like a tea rather than a liquor, though the burn gives away its true nature. Read More...

Kagemusha
Kagemusha means "shadow warrior" ... and was the title of a 1980 Akira Kurosawa film. The shochu gets its name from the black koji and robust imo flavor. The sexy black bottle & black label with gold and red trim add to the mystique. Read More...

yokaichi mugi
If iichiko silhouette was not your introduction to Japanese shochu, then it was likelyYokaichi Mugi. This is another ubiquitous barley shochu, mass produced, though still in the honkaku (single distillation) style. The lovely parchment label belies the low, low price, undercutting even iichiko. Read More...

IMG_8635 (2)
Kagura Tensho is the first 3 grain shochu we’ve reviewed. Barley and rice shochus tend to rely on the single grain while imo (sweet potato) shochus combine with rice or more rarely with barley to balance the robust earthiness of the sweet potatoes. However, this is the first shochu we’ve found that uses three different grains. The usual suspects, rice and barley, are joined with soba, or buckwheat, a heartier grain used in making soba noodles. Read More...

kurokame
Kurokame is a surprising imo shochu. Given the relatively modest price and the consistent imo shochu style, we expected another earthy, herbal imo. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – we enjoy imos of all types. This imo is made with “purple” Satsuma sweet potatoes. These potatoes have a robust reddish purple skin, but are a pale yellow inside. Read More...

Shimauta
As with most Awamori, Shimauta is a rich, flavorful, herbal spirit. An earthy nose hints at the flavor you expect from an Awamori. The warm mouthfeel promises a richness that does not disappoint. The herbal flavor is never overpowering, but also does not hide. There is the slightest hint of sweetness, but it is just promised, not delivered. The herbal (again) finish lingers into a buttery end. Read More...

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