Shochu Reviews...

Zuisen Hakuryu Awamori
Zuisen is perhaps the largest distiller of Awamori in Okinawa. This Hakuryu represents their entry level Awamori, though they have domestic varieties that are aged at more than 20 years. Like all Awamori, this represents a full flavored shochu with a great deal of complexity. These spirits are difficult to place flavor-wise and the only that I was able to distinguish clearly from Zuisen was a molasses palate. Unlike other Awamori I’ve had this one is quite balanced. I wouldn’t necessarily call it smooth, but it is mellow for the style. Read More...

Ginza No Suzume Kohaku
Ginza no Suzume Kohaku may be the first shochu I tried that showed just how diverse and complex this style of spirit can be. Ginza is a barley shochu, much like iichiko, which I consider a super easy drinking, mild, tasty starter-shochu, yet the two couldn’t be more different. Ginza is aged in repurposed American white oak bourbon barrels. This gives the shochu its yellowish tint and oaky, smokey nose and taste. On the pallette it starts with the strangely oaken, earthy flavor that transforms into a sweet caramel. Read More...

Kaido iwai no aka
I've been eyeing Kaido iwai no aka for well over a year. The stunning red bottle is undoubtably alluring and "iwai no aka" refers to the celebratory red color of the bottle. The shochu, however is clear. I remember sitting at an izakaya in midtown Manhattan and watching enviously as a Japanese customer poured from the gorgeous bottle. Read More...

Jougo Kokuto Shochu
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. Read More...

Aisome imo shochu
Aisome, which I discovered by chance at 1 or 8 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, over the weekend, was a pleasant surprise. This is an imo shochu, but unlike other imo I've had. The nose is typical - the faintest hint of earth along with sweet potato - with a promise of sweetness. The initial taste doesn't disappoint in that regard. It's a slightly sweet start, but that disipates quickly. Read More...

Kaikouzu Imo Shochu
We started the imo tastings with the easily drinkable, unassuming Kuro Kirishima. Neither of those words would be used to describe Kaikouzu. This is a single distilled imo using the golden chestnut sweet potato local to this region of Japan. This shochu smells like sweet potato in an oddly earthy way - almost unwashed. Read More...

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