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)

Price: $$


Tasting Notes

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.



8 Responses to “Kannoko”
  1. David says:

    I’ve had this locally when dining out, but I’d love to find a retail distributor in the San Francisco Bay area-

  2. This is the shochu that my friends (who are not sake drinkers) enjoy. They consistently give it high marks. This is probably because Kan no Ko appeals to whisky drinkers. Slightly sweet, rich and robust (aged 3 years), whisky drinkers find themselves in familiar territory. Rarely do I get this positive reaction when I’m pouring my imo shochu. And I have to agree. Kan no Ko is darn good. I like it on crushed ice. It has that whisky-like taste without the hard whisky bite. Very pleasant on summer evenings on my back deck on beautiful Baugo Bay.

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