Distillery: KIRISHIMA SHUZO
Type: Imo Shochu (Sweet Potato)
Available in USA: Yes
Kuro Kirishima Japanese shochu is the standard bearer shochu from the power house distillery Kirishima Shuzo. During this past decade’s shochu boom in Japan, Kirishima Shuzo has had 8 years of double digit growth and has recently finished their 4th distillery. Located in Miyazaki prefecture, they are located in the heart of shochu country. They pride themselves on their unique water source and their superior sweet potatoes.
Having recently reviewed Tomino Houzan, another Imo Shochu, one thing that struck me was how straightforward Kuro Kirishima is. It’s an easy starting shochu that builds to a nice body and the final crescendo is a satisfying finish. This hearty finish is a product of both the sweet potato base, called imo in Japan, and the usage of black koji. One note though I prefer my shochu on the rocks, for those who prefer their shochu neat, a dash of water does much to open up Kuro Kirishima resulting in better character and a more satiating experience.
Thinking critically about Kuro Kirishima, if you like imo shochu, there is very little to draw umbrage with. It provides the oak like flavor and subtle burn that is more pronounced than in rice or barley based shochu and less pronounced than a big awamori. That said, there are very few flavors that stand out that make this truly note worthy. For those of us who pursue a unique experience, then other more complex types of shochu may better fit the bill.
Aka Kirishima (red) can be a bit rare, and is Kin Kirishima (gold) impossible to find in the United States. That said, if you drink shochu in NYC, then you will have ample opportunity to try Kuro Kirishima. Deffinitely take the opportunity to try this solid, reasonable shochu.