Distillery: NISHI SHUZO
Type: Mugi Shochu (Barley)
Available in USA: Yes
You don’t realize how many great types of shochu come from Nishi Shuzo until you start reviewing them and taking note of who makes what. Hitotsubu No Mugi is their award winning Barley Shochu, not to be confused with the other Nishi Shuzo shochu reviewed recently, Tomino Houzan. What’s great about Nishi Shuzo is that they deffinitely are not a one trick pony. Their different types of Japanese use different ingredients and have unique flavors that stand on their own regard. Hitotsubu No Mugi was awarded the Monde Selection Gold Award in 2011. Monde Selection reviews a variety of food and drinks. Though not necessarily a pillar to the shochu community in Japan, their award speaks to the overall quality and balance of the drink.
Hitotsubu No Mugi shochu embodies what Mugi (barley) shochu should be. It has a light initial flavor. It’s a bit sweet, a bit wheat like. What is unique about Hitotsubu No Mugi is its creamy finish. It ends with vanilla notes, with hints of caramel. In fact, given these whiskey like characteristics, at the time I assumed that an aging process had taken place using oak or sherry casks. To my surprise, none was mentioned on Nishi Shuzo’s website. My opportunity to try Hitotsubu No Mugi was on the rocks. If you like your shochu neat, and do not discover the flavors mentioned above, it may take a bit of water to open the drink up.
My opportunity to taste this shochu was at Shimizu in Hell’s Kitchen. In the future, when I find Hitotsubu No Mugi available retail, I’ll be purchasing a full bottle in order to experiment trying it with different types of desserts, namely chocolate. Having searched online for a store that carries it, it appears to be fairly rare. Wally’s in LA seem to carry it, as well as Linwood in NJ. Prices run in the mid $30 range, but if your local store is charging more, you may not have any alternative if your heart is set on trying this solid mugi shochu.