Distillery: Hamada Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Kagoshima, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: barley (mugi)
Koji: white (shiro)
Distillation: atmospheric (joatsu)
Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)
Oak barrel aging has become a popular process as shochu producers experiment with different aging techniques to give their shochus unique flavor profiles. Kannoko and Ginza no Suzume Kohaku have full flavored profiles thanks to this aging process and are popular mugi shochus, particularly among whiskey drinkers. Kakushigura uses this process as well, but with a slightly different approach. While using white koji and atmospheric distillation, just as Kannoko does, the barrel aging is not quite so pronounced. The reason for this is unknown as it is unclear which repurposed whiskey barrels are used or for how long the shochu is aged prior to bottling.
A lovely golden hue promises hints of whiskey. As expected, a bright whiskey nose dominates the aromas. A sweet start mellows into a lovely woody middle followed by a surprising melon finish. The mouthfeel is neutral, but pleasant. The sweetness at the start dissipates almost as quickly as it arrives, leaving a much drier flavor profile than previously found in oaked mugis. The woody, more scotch-like flavors of Kakushigura provide a much different experience than the pronounced Bourbon notes found in more popular oaked mugi shochus.
The Verdict: Recommended
It is hard not to recommend these oaked mugi shcohus, because they provide such a familiar flavor experience while sparing the drinker the calories and alcohol hit of full whiskeys. Whiskey drinkers should certainly drink any of these neat (straight) or perhaps with a single cube to chill the spirit. Pouring Kakuhigura on the rocks will nearly immediately make the shochu taste like a glass of rocks whiskey left for the ice to melt far too long. All in all, if you like whiskey and you like shochu, Kakushigura is a must-try.