Tenpai Mugi Shochu


Brand: Tenpai (天盃)

Distillery: Tenpai Co, Ltd.

Location: Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan

Grain: barley (mugi)

Koji: unknown

Distillation: atmospheric suspected (joatsu)

Alcohol: 2o% (48 proof)

Price: $$$


Tasting Notes

Tenpai is an unexpected treat. A mugi shochu, which from previous experience we’d expect a light, neutral flavor like Yokaichi or a rich, sweetly whiskey note like Kannoko if aged in oak barrels. Tenpai defies both of those expectations.

Aged for one year in ceramic pots, Tenpai has a yeasty, nutty nose almost like rising bread dough. The soft, mellow mouthfeel is reminiscent of macadamia nuts. There’s never an overly strong flavor, but don’t mistake it for neutral or mellow. The faintly sweet, buttery, nutty flavor subsides into a distinct vanilla finish. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on in this mugi.


The Verdict: Highly Recommended

Upon first tasting Tenpai there’s an immediate inclination to dislike the spirit. That’s unfortunate, because it holds so much character. The yeasty, bread dough nose is shocking given the expectation of other shochus, particularly the mild mugis. However, given time and patience Tenpai turns into a favorite – so much so that as I was writing this review I got distracted searching the web for retailers.



2 Responses to “Tenpai Mugi Shochu”
  1. Gordon Heady says:

    Great review! I’ve not enjoyed the sake, but I am going to visit the brewery soon. It is very nearby.

    I think it interesting that this appears to be the only shochu Japan Prestige Sake exports to the USA. I wonder why they chose this particular shochu? Hmmm.

    How much might it retail for in the USA? Thoughts?

  2. Stephen says:

    Gordon. Thanks for the comment. This shochu has a completely unique aroma and taste since it is an unfiltered (muroka) shochu. It retails for low to mid-$30 in the NYC market. I haven’t seen it available elsewhere in the states and for some reason I’ve also not seen it at any NYC izakayas, only in retail outlets. Love it though.

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