Brand: Tenshi No Yuwaku
Distillery: Nishi Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: sweet potato (imo)
Koji: white (shiro)
Distillation: atmospheric (joatsu)
Alcohol: 40% (80 proof)
There’s no better Valentine’s Day shochu available in the U.S. than Tenshi No Yuwaku, which is translated as angel’s temptation. This is a play on the idea of the angel’s share, the part of a barrel aged spirit that evaporates “to heaven” … In this case, the spirit is so good even the angel’s are tempted. The Botticelli cupid on the label only makes it more sweet in its appeal to our romantic side.
Don’t let the sappy label fool you, this is a legitimately delicious shochu from premium shochu maker, Nishi Shuzo, producers of the extensive and high quality Hozan line. Starting with a white koji sweet potato genshu (untiluted), this shochu is aged for ten years in French sherry casks. That represents one of the longest aged shochus available in Japan and by far the most aged available in the U.S. Almost all shochus are aged just a few months while other “oaked” shochus are aged only three years.
Tenshi No Yuwaku fully embraces sherry or brandy like characteristics (I taste more sherry, but describe it more as brandy) while retaining the richness of a sweet potato genshu. This results in a delicious dessert shochu, perfect for sipping after a meal. I’ve taken to finishing my meal with a glass of this and a shiso sorbet when I visit Yakitori Tori Shin in Manhattan, one of just a handful of places that carry this by the glass.
The Verdict: Exceptional
While I would normally want to cut a genshu shochu with some water, either hot or cold, I’ve been enjoying Tenshi No Yuwaku straight as a digestif. I would definitely not drink this on the rocks as you’d destroy the delicate flavor characteristics that are so apparent in this premium imo shochu.
Be warned. Tenshi No Yuwaku is the most expensive shochu available in the United States with a retail liquor store price north of $70/bottle. A bottle in a restaurant will go over $100 and a single glass pour will likely put you back between $12 and $20 depending on the bar or restaurant. However, considering you’re getting about 65% more alcohol and 10 years of barrel aging for that premium, it’s well worth the price of admission. Consider it a treat. To yourself. On Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion