Brand: Jidai Kurahachi
Distillery: Tsutsumi Shuzo
Location: Asagiri-machi, Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: rice (kome)
Koji: black (kuro)
Distillation: atmospheric (joatsu)
Alcohol: 25% (50 proof)
Jidai Kurahachi, with its lovely rice paper label, is an uncompromising rice shochu, foregoing the smooth light taste that many kome shochu strive for while attempting to deliver a robust, rich taste using black koji and clay pot aging. It was worth the effort.
The nose is clean with hints of clay and freshly turned earth. The slightest hint of sake also invades, as would be expected with a rice shochu. The first sip hits with a rich, earthy molasses flavor with a grassy, dirty, dry finish that lingers on the palate. This shochu is dryer than sweet.
The Verdict: Highly Recommended
Jidai Kurahachi’s lingering flavor is extended even further when served on the rocks. This black koji kome shochu has a lot of character, as would be expected. Unfortunately, that character made it difficult for this shochu to find a market in the U.S. and word is that importation has been discontinued. If you are fortunate enough to find a bottle on a local liquor store shelf, do yourself a favor and pick it up. I believe I’ve seen it recently at both Landmark and Ambassador Wines in Manhattan.