Brand: Shiranami Kurokoji
Distillery: Satsuma Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Mukurazaki, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 83.3% imo (sweet potato) & 16.7% rice
Alcohol Content: 24%
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.
This, like many imo shochus, has an earthy nose. It smells like something came right out of the ground, but not in a bad way – a hint of fresh earth. The first taste results in a warm, honeyed mouth feel. Not necessarily sweet like honey, but rich like honey. The taste overall has a slight sweetness, though there is a faintly herbal finish, but it’s not at all noticeable unless you’re thinking about it.
I must admit that given the price and my first impressions, I was prepared to give it a lower score and a worse review, but a return to the bottle demonstrated subtle character and great value from this sweet potato shochu. I’d certainly say that this is on the mild side among imo shochus, but represents a nice entree for beginners or an easy drinking option for someone in the mood for an imo, but not the harshness or robustness of some of the more aggressive entries in this style.