Brand: Kannoko (神の河)
Distillery: Satsuma Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Kagoshima, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 100% barley (mugi)
Koji: white (shiro)
Distillation: atmospheric (normal pressure)
Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)
Kannoko is a single distilled normal pressure mugi shochu aged in oak barrels for 3 years before bottling. The oak gives the shochu its rich golden color and its faintly whiskey flavor. This is one of those aged mugis that whiskey drinkers will find familiar.
The nose is surprisingly neutral, but the surprise doesn’t come until you take some in your mouth. This is a rich, warm, woody shochu with plenty of flavor to spare. The scent doesn’t give you that impression at all. When drinking neat the rich, sweet flavor is not unlike a mild bourbon. Water or ice mellows this considerably, giving it a faintly sweet woody flavor. The finish is a very faint whiskey – that warmth you feel during a dram.
The Verdict: Recommended
Kannoko could end up being the drink of choice among whiskey drinkers in Japanese restaurants and bars. There are plenty of aged mugi shochus that have that nice oaked flavor, but this one has the advantage of being affordable and easy to find. Don’t drink it expecting a complete whiskey substitute – this is only aged 3 years while whiskeys are usually aged considerably longer – but it’s a very nice replacement in a pinch.