Distillery: Hakkaisan Co, Ltd.
Location: Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture, Japan
Grain: polished koshihikari rice (kome)
Yoroshiku Senman Arubeshi (aka, Hakkaisan Sannen Chozo) is a moromi shochu produced by Hakkaisan, one of the most popular sake brands in the U.S. This particular shochu is distilled from raw sake mash (moromi). The only difference between this shochu and one of Hakkaisan’s famous sakes is that it’s distilled instead of brewed.
This particular bottle was available at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) in a duty free shop.
As a testament to the popularity of shochu in Japan, this is now the 4th most popular product on the brewery’s website. Since this is a sake brewery, they use highly polished koshihikari rice unique to Niigata Prefecture. Next they use yellow koji, which is a sake koji and rarely use in shochu – it’s too temperamental for reliable use in distillation, but these sake masters apparently have more patience with this koji strain. Once the moromi is complete, it’s distilled as any shochu. Finally, after distillation this shochu is aged for a minimum of 2 years.
So that’s all well and good, but what does this taste like? Like many kome shochus, this has a clean nose, though the sake kasu give it a slightly “sake” like nose, but that’s very, very light. The taste and mouth feel are again like a very light dry sake or white wine – very little sweetness. As you’d expect from a smooth kome shochu, there isn’t a whole lot of robustness. That comes from the alcohol “bite” of this sake-like spirit. At 25% alcohol it is much more powerful than a sake and ultimately if this were a sake, it wouldn’t taste very good. But this is a shochu and as such it’s delicious.
The main flavor and finish, surprisingly, is fresh laundry. That’s right. This shochu tastes like the scent of clothes straight from the dryer. I kid you not. It’s not at all unpleasant. In fact, it’s drinkable and refined. I never thought I’d like drinking freshly laundered garments, but I was wrong.
The Verdict: Highly Recommended
Ultimately, this is a well rounded and complex shochu unlike anything we’ve tasted from American imports. The combination of a unique use of sake moromi (including yellow koji) make this an interesting shochu and one well worth trying for shochu aficionados. Yoroshiku Senman Arubeshi is not currently available for sale in the U.S. (there appear to be plans afoot so this may change soon), but if you see it in the NRT Duty Free, it’s worth picking up. Just don’t expect it to be like other kome you’ve tried. Highly Recommended.