Kagemusha: Shadow Warrior

Brand:  Kagemusha

Distillery: Yatsushika Sake Brewery Co, Ltd.

Location: Kusu, Oita prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan

Grain: 80% sweet potato (imo) & 20% rice (kome)

Koji: black

Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)

Price: $


Tasting Notes

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.

Kagemusha is a classic imo in its earthy nose – you can smell that fresh dirt off the potatoes. The strangest part is that it’s also gives the vague sense of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.  A vaguely sweet yet herby palate –  as in fresh herbs, not as in Chinese medicine – gives way to a buttery mouth feel. The finish comes with a cinnamon-burn and a lingering taste as if you’ve just finished a warm cookie. I have no idea why this shochu is evoking baked goods, but it could be a worse sensation. Believe me.



The Verdict

Kagemusha is ultimately a very balanced imo shochu. It lacks the kick in the head full flavor of Kaikouzu, yet is holds its own as a nice choice. The balance allows for a pleasant experience without the robustness of some of the “bigger” imos. The cookie, butter, and cinnamon notes are an unexpected treat – and are probably lost if you drink this on the rocks.



Score (0-100): 77

3 Responses to “Kagemusha: Shadow Warrior”
  1. Ichicoro says:

    Hi, do you happen to know who imports or distributes the Kagemusha?


    • Stephen says:

      Kagemusha is imported and distributed by JFC International, at least in NY and CA. Not sure about distribution in other parts of the US.

  2. Zac Hunter says:

    I agree you might lose the cookie, butter and cinnamon notes on the rocks but I found ice let’s a molasses and nuttiness come through. Almost like the nutty umami of towari (maybe I’m crazy here). Very different neat. I have yet to try it oyu-wari.

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