Brand: Satsuma Mura (薩摩邑)
Distillery: Iwagawa Jozo, Co Ltd.
Location: Soo, Kagoshima, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 84.2% sweet potato (imo) & 15.8% rice (kome)
Koji: black (kuro)
Distillation: atmospheric (joatsu)
Alcohol: 25% (50 proof)
Satsuma Mura, a traditionally distilled honkaku imojochu from Kagoshima (home of the most famous imo shochus), is a mouthful of contradictions and complications. A fragrant, earthy nose as if you’d just sliced open a freshly unearthed sweet potato promises a rich flavor that this shochu delivers without reservation. The first sip is sharp, spiced and biting on the palate. This mellows into herbal undertones followed by a flood of sweetness before a lingering herbal tartness settles onto the tongue. The earthiness infuses the mouth, especially toward the back where bitterness is most apparent. If you manage to keep the spirit forward on your tongue you’ll miss this bitter complexity, but will be rewarded with a warm sweetness. It’s a tough call which way to go, but the great thing about it is you can alternate from sip to sip. You’re not committed to one experience.
The Verdict: Recommended
This is clearly one of the most traditional, complex imo shochus we’ve yet reviewed. It provides the kinds of complexity you’d expect from a single malt scotch with much lower alcohol content. The spirit dries out in a hurry when paired with savory foods. The sweetness recedes into the background entirely. It’s much drier than other imos, but provides such an interesting experience we can’t help but recommend it. Though this recommendation comes with a caveat. If you’re a light mugi drinker this might knock your socks off. If you’re an imo lover, don’t hold back.