Brand: Gankutsuoh (巌窟王)
Distillery: Takara Shuzo Co., Ltd.
Location: Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 100% polished (to 55%) Japonica rice
alcohol content: 25%
Gankutsuoh is an aged rice shochu, but not in the Awamori style. It uses Japanese rather than Thai rice, polished just as rice is polished in sake production. Once processed and placed into clay jars, this shochu is stored in a cave to age. This gives us its unique name, which means “Cave King” … incidentally it’s very close to the Japanese translation for The Count of Monte Cristo, which made research on this shochu pretty challenging. The cool interior of the cave gives this shochu its mellow flavor.
The shochu, which comes in a lovely gray bottle, has a melon nose that promises a sweetness that is never delivered. This is an aromatic, faintly herbal shochu with a very mellow mouth feel – almost earthy. The flavor lingers into a mellow minty spice – a quite pleasant aftertaste. It is definitely improved with water, though ice cuts through the flavor and hides the subtelty.
The Verdict: Highly Recommended
This is a sneakily delicious shochu. It comes off as mild and straightforward until you explore the flavors more fully and give it time to grow on you. This shochu would be wasted as a cocktail mixer – best served with a bit of cold water though I imagine it would be very nice warm as well. I’m already looking forward to my next bottle. This one disappeared way too easily.