Distillery: Kinoshita Jyozosho Co., Ltd.
Location: Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 100% polished rice (kome)
When we think about rice-based drinks, our mind first turns to sake, at least mine does. It’s familiar and uniquely Japanese. Yet shochu can also be made of rice and like sake the rice is polished, though the quality of the shochu is not as strictly dictated by the degree of polishing. This is different for Awamori, which is not only made of a different rice, but the rice is also crushed rather than polished prior to use.
Bunzo Kome is a polished rice shochu, which, as with other shochus of this style, results in a sweet, mellow drink. There is a light, neutral, slightly alcoholic nose – not much going on at all with the scent of this shochu. The flavor is a sweet first impression, not unlike some sake, and that’s followed by more sweetness – a mellow sweetness. Not quite sugar, but not molasses or honey either. Unexpectedly, it finishes with a pleasant Scotch-like aftertase. It’s unexpected both because it is a such a sweet shochu to start, but also because this shochu is aged in traditional clay pots, not oak barrels.
The Verdict: Recommended
Rice shochu tends to be smoother than other styles, at least these polished rice shochus. So how about Bunzo Kome?
Mellow. Sweet. Whiskey. I think that about sums it up.