By "the date shochu" we don't mean a shochu that's good to drink when you're on a date, though that may be true as well. We mean a shochu made from dates. In fact, Tenpo is the only shochu made from dates. That puts it pretty far afield from the usual shochu grains - sweet potato, barley, or rice. It's also one of the only genshu (undiluted) shochus available in the U.S. As expected, the 36% alcohol is much more present than with diluted shochus. Further complicating this already interesting shochu is the aging process.
Tsukushi Kuro is one of four barley shochus available in the U.S. from Nishi Yoshida Shuzo, a premium barley shochu maker from Fukuoka. All of their U.S. products are made with barley koji, resulting in a 100% barley shcohu. Typically, barley shochus such as iichiko or Yufuin, take a light, clean approach to their shochus usually using white rice koji and low pressure distillation.
While iichiko silhouette is the first shochu we'd ever tried and remains a staple in introducing the uninitiated to the spirit, iichiko seirin is an even lighter mugi shochu made with the same distillation process, but cut to a lower 20% alcohol by volume with fresh spring water prior to bottling.
Satsuma Mura, a traditionally distilled honkaku imojochu from Kagoshima (home of the most famous imo shochus), is a mouthful of contradictions and complications. A fragrant, earthy nose as if you'd just dug a sweet potato out of the dirt and sliced it open promises a rich flavor that this shochu delivers without reservation.
As with most Awamori, Shimauta is a rich, flavorful, herbal spirit. An earthy nose hints at the flavor you expect from an Awamori. The warm mouthfeel promises a richness that does not disappoint. The herbal flavor is never overpowering, but also does not hide. There is the slightest hint of sweetness, but it is just promised, not delivered. The herbal (again) finish lingers into a buttery end.