Ancient Greatness: Taiso
Distillery: Ikinokura Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Iki Island, Nagasaki Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 67% barley (mugi), 33% rice (kome)
Koji: white (shiro)
Distillation: atmospheric (joatsu)
Alcohol: 25% (50 proof)
Note: This review is our first guest review from Shochu Tuesday regular and shochu lover, Bill Gunther (linking to his instagram since he doesn’t have his own blog).
Taiso, a relative newcomer to the US market, packs a robust smoky, but traditional Iki Island punch which pairs well with meals. Similar to its fellow ikijochu, Yamanomori, Taiso is made with a 2:1 ratio mix of barley to rice. It has a slightly less buttery mouthfeel than Yamanomori but nonetheless a full bodied somewhat roasted taste in the traditional Iki Island style. Taiso’s traditional taste comes from filtration using bamboo charcoal and its use of high quality natural spring water from the lush green hills near the distillery which is in roughly the center of Iki Island.
In comparison to Yamanomori and Ark Jakuunbaku (another mugi shochu with a rich, unique flavor), Taiso seems to be a better match with smoked foods and robata style meals. Its nose is stronger than Yamanomori’s and it lacks the sweet dark chocolate undertones of Ark Jakuunbaku.
The Verdict: Highly Recommended
Taiso has a unique, complex flavor worth savoring and somewhat different from most other mugi shochu. It can be served on the rocks (rokku), with a cold water mix (mizwari), with hot water (oyuwari), or with a green tea mix (ochawari). My preferred style being served on the rocks. (Stephen here: I prefer this oyuwari, but Bill is a more rokku kind of guy). If you like the aforementioned Yamanomori and Ark Jakuunbaku, then you should seek out Taiso and experience its “ancient greatness” which Ikinokura Distillery Co. takes pride in. In sum, this is a highly recommended mugi shochu.