Distillery: AMAMI OSHIMA KAIUN SHUZO
Type: Kokuto Shochu (Brown Sugar)
Region: Ryukyu Archipelago
Available in USA: Yes
Lento Kokuto Shochu is a brown sugar shochu that comes from Amami Oshima Island. Amami Oshima is an island that sits between Kyushu and Okinawa. The maker, Amami Oshima Kaiun Shuzo, is a company that takes a unique view of the distilling process. Historically women made Japanese shochu in their homes, and Amami Oshima Kaiun takes this seriously, even using the tag line “made by women, for women”. Beyond this they go to great lengths to care for the shochu, even playing classical music during the 3 month aging process. In fact, this is where the shochu gets it’s name, lento being an italian musical term for a slow tempo.
Lento definitely is a lighter shochu. It has more complexity than Hakutake Shiro, but is relatively delicate in nature. Being made with brown sugar, it surprisingly lacked a sweet syrupy flavor that I was expecting. In its place was a hint of what can only be described as cough medicine. Interestingly, this actually works and was a welcome edition. Lento Shochu ends with cedar notes that make this more interesting than your standard Kome Shochu. Though I tried it on the rocks tonight, something tells me that this make be better served neat, with a dash of water to open it up. This may draw out the flavor while not diluting the experience. The combination of these interesting flavors makes this worth a try.
I would have said that Lento Kokuto Shochu was not available in the United States if I had not bought a glass of it tonight. After much searching, I finally found it sold online by a company name Linwood Wine and Liquors. Though I’ve never ordered anything from them, their price of $23.00 seems reasonable. Given its obscurity, for those interested in partaking in a unique shochu should not miss the opportunity.