Distillery: SATSUMA SHUZO
Type: Mugi Shochu (Barley)
Available in USA: Yes
Kannoko Shochu is from Satsuma Distillery in Miyazaki Prefecture. Kannoko, is also spelled Kan No Ko by some restaurants and stores. It would seem that restaurants, stores, and trading companies seem to struggle with whether to include spaces in the names of the Japanese shochu they sell. Kannoko is a good example of this. It literally translates to ‘river of god’ and carries the meaning of ‘river protected by the gods’ in Kyushu. This would suggest that it’s name should be broken into 3 words. The flip side is that Kannoko takes its name from a river in the area where it is produced. This would suggest that it’s name should be one word. In this particular case, Satsuma Distillery has written the name in English on the bottle. Right or wrong, that’s the spelling that the maker intended, so that’s the spelling we will use. When shoping for shochu, if you see spelling that is randomly pushed together, or pulled apart, don’t fear, its most probably the same shochu.
When not able to enjoy shochu, I do enjoy a nice whiskey neat or on the rocks. Kannoko shochu is a whiskey drinkers gateway to shochu. I believe this unique flavor comes from the fact that it is aged in oak barrels for three years. It is said that this aging process is where Kannoko shochu gets its golden color from. It has been said that Kannoko is similar to that of a scotch whisky. I find that the flavor more closely matches that of Jameson Irish Whiskey in so much that it lacks the complexity of most scotches and has the smoothness that is pleasant to drink. Also in true whiskey fashion, the finish of Kannoko has notes of caramel. If there was anything negative to say about Kannoko, it would be that it lacks a complex bouquet. It smells like.. shochu. If it were not for this, Kannoko would score well into the 90′s. That being said, the complexity in flavors makes this well worth drinking.
Kannoko shochu, though not inexpensive, can be found at a reasonable price. Here in NY its price can vary greatly. Hats off to Astor Wines and Spirits for selling it for $26.99 currently. For those who are looking to introduce shochu to their friends, Kannoko is a great choice if your friends happen to have a passion for whiskey.