Distillery: Kagura Shuzo, Co Ltd.
Location: Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 83% sweet potato (imo), 17% rice (kome)
Koji: black (kuro)
Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)
Tenson Kourin is one of the more affordable sweet potato shochus available in the U.S. At less than $20 per bottle, it’s a true bargin. While many of the lower priced shochus have less flavor or complexity, Tenson Kourin does not suffer this fate. This was a product developed in 2001 specifically for the export market, though it is also sold within Japan. My first experience with this shochu was in Taiwan, yet when I subsequently discovered it in the U.S. I did not put two and two together, because the bottles had different labels. Already a fan from my Taiwan experience, discovering Tenson Kourin stateside was quite a treat.
The complexity begins with the nose – earth and clay mingle together to promise a robust flavor. It delivers across the board. A sweet start quickly transitions into an herbal middle with a buttery mouthfeel. This lingers into a peppery finish. I often use “sweet”, “herbal”, “buttery”, or “peppery” to describe various aspects of a shochu’s flavor profile, but I rarely use all three and never for such an affordable product.
The Verdict: Recommended
Even putting the low price point aside, this is a recommended imo shochu. The rich flavor profile, interesting nose, and nice mouthfeel combine to provide a rewarding experience for the drinker. I prefer this with a 7:3 shochu to cold water ratio. Pouring it on the rocks masks the interesting flavors too much for my taste. You may decide differently.