Kura No Shikon
Brand: Kura No Shikon
Distillery: Komasa Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Kagoshima, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 84% kogane sengan sweet potatoes (imo) & 16% koshihikari rice (kome)
Koji: black (kuro)
Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)
Komasa distillery has been making imo shochu in Kagoshima since 1883, but their outstanding products only reached the U.S. in 2012. We first were able to sample these at the Shochu Night Out in February. Above all of their very nice products, this is the one we were most excited about. A black koji sweet potato shochu aged in unglazed clay pots for a minimum of 3 years, this promises to be a full bodied, richly flavored, absolutely decadent imo shochu. And does it ever deliver.
Taking full advantage of the black koji, sweet potatoes, and traditional atmospheric distillation, Kuro No Shikon greets the drinker with a rich earthy nose. The sweet pungency permeates the glass and promises a world of flavor. While many imo shochus have this aromatic profile, this is a rounder, richer scent than most deliver. It’s simply luscious.
The first sip provides a dirty roasted sweetness with a buttery mellow mouthfeel. This slides into an a fresh vegetal middle before sharpening into a minted finish. A splash of water mellows much of this out, but makes for a less interesting experience, if more drinkable.
The Verdict: Highly Recommended
This is a shochu best had straight (neat) to enjoy the full flavor characteristics. Perhaps a dash of water to open it up a little, but it’s delicious as it is. It’s not often a shochu comes along that surprises even with high expectations, but Kura No Shikon is one of those. Our only wish is that it was available more places. This is hard to find!