Distillery: KIKUNOTSUYU SHUZO
Available in USA: No
Compared to the smooth drinking Tan Taka Tan Shiso Shochu and Tomino Houzan Shouchu reviewed recently, the full flavored Kikunotsuyu’s V.I.P Gold Awamori is a decidedly different drink. To understand Kikunotsuyu V.I.P. Gold, its good to understand Awamori. Awamori is much like Shochu with the only hard exception being that Awamori is usually made with long grain Thai style rice, and Shochu is generally made using Japanese rice. Beyond this, Awamori is traditionally made with Black Koji that is indigenous to Okinawa and is often aged.
Kikunotsuyu Shuzo is located on Miyako Island, about 400 miles east of Taipei, making it 3 times closer to Taipei than Tokyo. The consistent 73 degree temperature and humidity is said to aide in giving Kikunotsuyu its unique flavor. It is the only second generation awamori distillery and has been around for 85 years. The name comes from a story of a son who collected the dew of chrysanthemum in order to save his mother from sickness.
Though Kikunotsuyu V.I.P. Gold is made with rice, its warmth is more similar to drinking a whiskey. It’s initial rice based flavor at the tip of the tongue can not be mistaken but this quickly dissipates leaving you with a subtle burn that lingers like the peat of an Islay scotch. The aroma is best described as having starchy liquorice notes. With a bit of ice, this opens up into a wheat flavor. Unlike most shochus the subtle burn that exists when drank neat continues even when paired with water or ice.
Though lacking the depth of more expensive drinks, Kikunotsuyu V.I.P. Gold is still a satisfying drink. It’s reasonable price makes it a solid addition to a Awamori collection. Though technically listed as “not available in America” there is a retailer on Rakuten that is willing to ship to America. I’ve never tried this, but something tells me that this could be held up in customs. At the very least, you may have a small tariff to pay in order to accept your shipment. Mileage may vary. For those who like their whiskey neat, at $20 USD, Kikunotsuyu V.I.P. Gold can’t be beat.