Lady in Red



Brand: Kaido iwai no aka

Distillery: Hamada Shuzo, Co. Ltd.

Location:  Satsuma, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan

Grain: 83% kogane-sengan sweet potato & 17% rice

kojii: black (kuro)

alcohol content: 24%

price: $$


Tasting Notes

I’ve been eyeing Kaido iwai no aka for well over a year. The stunning red bottle is undoubtably alluring and “iwai no aka” refers to the celebratory red color of the bottle. The shochu, however is clear.  I remember sitting at an izakaya in midtown Manhattan and watching enviously as a Japanese customer poured from the gorgeous bottle.

Of course, you should never judge a book by its cover (and beauty is only skin deep), what really matters is what’s inside. This is where Kaido also surprises. It starts interestingly with a hint of juniper on the palate, but that’s quickly replaced with a light mellowness – a neutrality that would make this an excellent mixer for cocktails if you want to avoid korui shochu (multiply distilled). Kaido finishes with the slightest hint of cinammon, but just a tease like that gorgeous red bottle itself.


Verdict: Worth Drinking

This is the rare sweet potato shochu that doesn’t own up to the robust, flavorful, complex reputation that this variety so richly deserves, instead it is a mellow, extremely easy drinking spirit much more closely akin to a light mugi shochu. If you’re in the mood for something light, but still want some interesting flavors beneath the surface – juniper and cinnamon in the same glass – then it’s probably worth savoring the lady in red.





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