Brand: Satsuma Hozan
Distillery: Nishi Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 83% sweet potato (imo) & 17% rice (kome)
Koji: white (shiro)
Alcohol: 25% (50 proof)
Satsuma Hozan is the white koji sweet potato shochu from Nishi Shuzo, which also makes such premium products as Tomi No Hozan, Kiccho Hozan, and the ultra-premium Tenshi No Yuwaku. Besides these year round products, Nishi Shuzo also produces a line of seasonal limited edition sweet potato shochus including Ayamurasaki, Beniazuma, and Shiroyukata. If you find any of those very limited products at a local izakaya or liquor store, please try them. They’re hard to find and oh, so delicious, though they’re also genshu (undiluted) shochus so they pack a punch.
But Satsuma Hozan is the shochu that made Nishi Shuzo famous throughout Japan. This luscious white koji shochu is approachable, yet complex. it hits you first in the nose with a faintly roasted sweet potato aroma. Not as pronounced as some other roast-evoking shochus, but more subtle and discrete. The white koji and atmospheric distillation combine to give Satsuma Hozan a buttery mouthfeel while providing floral, aromatic flavors that are slightly sweet with the roasted flavor appearing in the middle of the sip. An herbal, earthy finish leaves you with a broad flavor spectrum from this shochu, which has much more complexity than other white koji imo shochus.
It’s hard not to get excited about seeing Hozan products on the shelves of a bar or shop. These premium sweet potato shochus never fail to deliver interesting flavors with approachable complexity. You pay a price for this exquisite combination of aromas, flavors, and mouthfeel, but it’s worth every penny. I tend to prefer shiro koji shochus on the rocks, though some cold water makes a nice mix as well. But not too much water or ice or you’ll lose the aromas and flavors that make Satsuma Hozan so famous.