BIG IMO: Kaikouzu

Kaikouzu Imo Shochu

Brand: Kaikouzu
Distillery: Fukiage Shochu Co., Ltd.

Grain: 84% imo (sweet potato) & 16% rice

Location: Minamisatsuma, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan

Koji: black (kuro)

Alcohol: 24%

Price: $$$

 

Tasting Notes

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.

The taste is a kick in the teeth – sweet yet biting. And it’s a big bite. Some anise. Some cigar smoke. This is not for the faint of heart (or palate). There’s a lot going on here before it smooths out into a mellow aftertaste. Oddly, it leaves you wanting that next sip almost immediately to experience the rollercoaster all over again.

This isn’t quite as whisky-ish as some of the aged or awamori shochus, but it’s got a big taste all its own. And I mean big.

 

The Verdict: Recommended

This is not a starter shochu. If you’re looking for a vodka substitute or something for a cocktail, look elsewhere. Kaikouzu is a big boy (grown up) imo – one you’ll find yourself coming back to time and again if you develop a taste for it. The bright orange label (picture doesn’t do it justice) is easy to remember. And worth finding if you’re ready to explore.

 

Kampai!

Comments
4 Responses to “BIG IMO: Kaikouzu”
  1. Ben Bell says:

    I just had this brought in to the retail store I work at. The intensity is great as it can play well in a cocktail without being easily overpowered. The profile actually reminded me and some of the other staff of a good plum eau-de-vie. Definitely get the earthiness as well.

    I brought it to a party and poured it on the rocks for some friends. The response was roundly positive.

  2. This is a great imo shochu 芋焼酎; it’s distilled from 84% sweet potato and 16% rice. In my opinion, this is how a good imo should taste and smell. Clear, clean, and smooth as a beauty queen’s bottom. A bit of a bite (“Come on, babe, make it hurt so good.”). And what a sweet little tail. I want spank this little lady and take her home. I’ll make love al night in front of the fireplace. Kaikouzu-san, 愛している.
    Order this now. Drink it soon. Ain’t life wonderful.
    LaMonte Heflick, ASP Sake Education Council Feb 2014.

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