Kagemusha: Shadow Warrior
Distillery: Yatsushika Sake Brewery Co, Ltd.
Location: Kusu, Oita prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 80% sweet potato (imo) & 20% rice (kome)
Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)
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.
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