Distillery: KIRISHIMA SHUZO
Type: Imo Shochu (Sweet Potato)
Available in USA: Yes
Somewhat like Johnny Walker, Aka (Red) Kirishima is the middle bottle of the color coordinated black, red, and gold Imo shochu from the power house distillery Kirishima Shuzo. I’ve been looking forward to reviewing this Japanese shochu because though it is not uncommon, very little is written about it online. Beyond the fact that little has been written, I also have in my possession a bottle of Kin (Gold) Kirishima in my possession. I’ve vowed to not crack this until I’ve had a chance to reflect upon the Aka Kirishima Experience so this is the next step in the journey.
Aka Kirishima’s claim to fame is the fact that it is made with murasaki masari sweet potato. This indigenous to Japan sweet potato is unique in so much that it is purple in color. In a shochu shop in Osaka I’ve been told that the thing that gives murasaki masari sweet potatoes their pigment also indicates the presence of resveratrol. Resveratrol is what is present in red wine that prevents damage to blood vessels, reduces bad cholesterol and prevents blood clots. Checking online all day I was not able to find any medical website willing to back this up. Your mileage may vary.
Drinking Aka Kirishima seemed to reflect traits of western alcohol. The flavor of Aka Kirishima is best decribed as being smoky like a mellow scotch. The finish has grass like notes a bit like a carmenere red wine. I was lucky enough to try this at an Izakaya with a lot of pairings. My favorite was with Yakitori. I think the smokiness would compliment many grilled meats, but chicken seemed to work best.
Aka Kirishima (red) is a bit rare to find in the United States. That said, it is available at many upscale shochu bars and online as well. Given that it is a bit more obscure, it’s prices tend to vary. This is a great shochu and well worth trying it if you have the chance.