Brand: Ginza No Suzume Kuro Koji
Distillery: Yatsushika Sake Brewery Co, Ltd.
Location: Kusu, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan
Grain: barley (mugi)
Koji: black (kuro)
Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)
Like most “kuro koji” versions of white (shiro) koji shochus, the black koji really opens up the flavor profile. While Ginza No Suzume, which we haven’t yet profiled, has a nice light neutral mugi flavor, this Ginza Kuro is much bigger. A dirty, earthy, fatty nose opens up the promise of a large taste and unexpectedly for a non-barrel aged mugi shochu it delivers.
The flavor itself is raw and chewy with hints of anise, an uncommon flavor among shochus. This is a full, robust shochu that makes no apologies. The herbal minted finish is a nice touch after the visceral mouthfeel.
The Verdict: Worth Drinking
Mugi shochus tend to play it safe, opting for smooth almost vodka like neutrality or the big whiskey flavor of barrel aging. Few take big flavor chances, leaving that to the other varieties of shochu. Ginza Kuro takes that chance and delivers a very nice, tasty, and affordable mugi shochu that makes a nice change if you’re not quite in the mood for a sweet potato but don’t want the mildness of a shiro mugi shochu. Best enjoyed on the rocks or with a splash of cold water.