Bunzo Kome Shochu
Bunzo Kome is a polished rice shochu, which, as with other shochus of this style, results in a sweet, mellow drink. There is a light, neutral, slightly alcoholic nose – not much going on at all with the scent of this shochu. The flavor is a sweet first impression, not unlike some sake, and that’s followed by more sweetness – a mellow sweetness. Not quite sugar, but not molasses or honey either. Read More...
Shiranami Kurokoji
Shiranami Korukoji, which is roughly translated black/white wave, is an affordable, flavorful, balanced sweet potato shochu. This shochu is made with kogane sengan sweet potatoes, always fresh, never frozen. They take pride in their product, yet manage to keep this honkaku (single distilled) shochu on the lower end of the price range. The black koji gives the drink a deeper flavor than expected. Read More...
Gankutsuoh
  Brand: Gankutsuoh (巌窟王) Distillery: Takara Shuzo Co., Ltd. Location:  Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan Grain: 100% polished (to 55%) Japonica rice koji: unknown alcohol content: 25% price: $$$   Tasting Notes Gankutsuoh is an aged rice shochu, but not in the Awamori style. It uses Japanese rather than Thai rice, polished just as rice is polished in sake production. Once processed and placed into clay jars, this shochu is stored in a cave to age. This gives us its unique name, which means “Cave King” … incidentally it’s very close to the Japanese translation for The Count of Monte Cristo Read More...
Zuisen Hakuryu Awamori
Zuisen is perhaps the largest distiller of Awamori in Okinawa. This Hakuryu represents their entry level Awamori, though they have domestic varieties that are aged at more than 20 years. Like all Awamori, this represents a full flavored shochu with a great deal of complexity. These spirits are difficult to place flavor-wise and the only that I was able to distinguish clearly from Zuisen was a molasses palate. Unlike other Awamori I’ve had this one is quite balanced. I wouldn’t necessarily call it smooth, but it is mellow for the style. Read More...
Ginza No Suzume Kohaku
Ginza no Suzume Kohaku may be the first shochu I tried that showed just how diverse and complex this style of spirit can be. Ginza is a barley shochu, much like iichiko, which I consider a super easy drinking, mild, tasty starter-shochu, yet the two couldn’t be more different. Ginza is aged in repurposed American white oak bourbon barrels. This gives the shochu its yellowish tint and oaky, smokey nose and taste. On the pallette it starts with the strangely oaken, earthy flavor that transforms into a sweet caramel. Read More...
Kaido iwai no aka
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. Read More...

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