Kozuru Kuro


Brand: Kozuru Kuro

Distillery: Komasa Shuzo, Co. Ltd. 

Location: Kaogshima Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan

Grain: sweet potato (imo)

Koji: black (kuro)

Distillation: atmospheric (joatsu)

Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)

Price: $


Tasting Notes

Hard to explain why I haven’t reviewed Kozuru Kuro sooner. Perhaps in some way I wanted to keep it secret. It’s an affordable, luscious black koji imo shochu from Kagoshima. It’s the basic product from Komasa Shuzo, which I visited this summer. They also offer a clay pot aged imo shochu in the U.S. known as Kura No Shikon, which is actually made in a different facility and with a different distillation process than Kozuru.

This represents their basic introductory sweet potato shochu and comes in white, yellow, and black koji varieties, but only the black koji version is sold in the U.S.

So what’s it like? Thanks to the black koji, it has the distinct earthy nose we expect, but this is unexpectedly accompanied by a maple syrup aroma. It’s forwardly sweet,  almost molasses like with a round, rich mouthfeel. An unexpected roasted caramel finish completes the package.


The Verdict: Highly Recommended

Unlike other black koji imo shochus, which can be dirty and dry, Kozuru is a rich sweet, delicious shochu that might be best served straight. Adding water mellows everything out considerably, but the sweetness pervades, though the finish is almost too faint to enjoy. Don’t bother drinking this one on the rocks. The ice masks everything that’s luscious about this shochu. It took me a while to figure this out. I remember absolutely loving it the first time I tried it, but then being less impressed when drinking it “rocks” at an izakaya. Skip the ice.



9 Responses to “Kozuru Kuro”
  1. Very interesting! I haven’t seen this one at my local liquor store, but I will definitely ask them to get some.

  2. Stephen says:

    It’d definitely a favorite of mine. I was recently asked to choose the monthly shochu special at a NYC izakaya and this is what I had them pour for the 1st month.

  3. Toby says:

    I live here in Japan, I’m an IMO fan now. This is best far
    one of the best I have tasted for the moment!!

    • Stephen says:

      Yes, this is a great daily shochu. It’s mass produced, but done so with quite a bit of attention to both flavor and aroma. Have you tried it “oyuwari” (with hot water)? It’s pretty great that way.

  4. Alex says:

    Any recommendation of stores in NYC that carry this brand? Thanks!

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  1. […] explains this place only serves one shochu. Kozuru Kuro from Komasa Shuzo. This work-a-day shochu is one of my favorite of the affordable sweet potato […]

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