Last summer I spent 5 days in Kyushu and 5 more in Okinawa, trying more than 200 shochus and Awamori in a very short span of time. That was just a taste of what's to come. I'm now headed to Kyushu for the prime imo shochu production season.
The English language has hundreds of words to describe colors. Japanese has just a few. Contrarily, Japanese has hundreds of words to describe taste or aromas while English has relatively few. This reflects a profound cultural difference in which senses dominate the human experience. Westerners tend to concentrate very much on visual stimuli and rely less on aroma and taste in making decisions. On the contrary, Japanese culture is essentially obsessed with the aromas, tastes, and textures of food.
If you've tried other soba shochus, you're probably used to their lightly nutty aromas and flavors while still finding them light and easy drinking. Towari takes this in a completely different direction by using 100% soba. Most other soba shochus blend rice and even barley during the fermentation processes in order to smooth out the rich flavors of the buckwheat.
Mizunomai (Mizu for short) is a high proof barley shochu that was developed for the global market. Extensive taste testing with customers and bartenders throughout Japan, the US, and other Asian countries yielded this blend as the most popular all without compromising the artisinal qualities that make this class of spirits so unique.
SakaMai may not be the kind of place that you can afford to eat every night, but you're going to want to. The food, drinks, atmosphere, and staff make this an absolutely perfect night out. I'd like to come up with a quibble so it doesn't seem like I'm completely biased ... okay, here's one.
Aka Kirishima is a seasonal sweet potato shochu from Kirishima Shuzo, the producer of the best selling shochu in Japan, Kuro Kirishima. Much as iichiko put Oita on the map as a producer of barley shochu to rival Iki Island (more barley shochu is now produced in Oita than in the traditional home of barley shochu), Kirishima's products put Miyazaki on the map as a rival to Kagoshima's dominance as the home of sweet potato shochus.