Distillery: KIRISHIMA SHUZO
Type: Imo Shochu (Sweet Potato)
Available in USA: Yes
Kin Kirishima is the highest among the three standard Japanese shochu from Kirishima Distillery, Kuro Kirishima (black), Aka Kirishima (red), and Kin Kirishima (gold). I say among the “standard” shochu because I realized tonight that Kirishima Distillery carries a line of even higher quality, the “Tama Kin Kirishima” series of shochu. The middle school child in me chuckled at this name because “tama kin” means “ball of gold”. “Gold ball” is a Japanese nickname for a particularly masculine part of the male anatomy. I am heading to Japan next month, I’ll be both finding out if I can find the “Tama Kin” series and I’ll be asking my friends if Japanese people find this name as funny as I do.
The first thing that should be mentioned about Kin Kirishima is the fact that it is made with cordyceps instead of the normal black or white koji. This fungus in nature grows from dead insects and looks like orange grass. Before you object to ever trying Kin Kirishima, Kirishima distillery has found a way to grow this artificially from brown rice. According to webMD cordyceps can be used to treat coughs, chronic bronchitis, respiratory disorders, kidneydisorders, nighttime urination, male sexual problems, anemia, irregular heartbeat,high cholesterol, liver disorders, dizziness, weakness, ringing in the ears, unwantedweight loss, and opiumaddiction. Wow! Cordyceps have been mentioned as an aphrodisiac and the head of one of the Chinese women’s Olympic distance running teams even prescribed the usage of cordyceps and turtle blood to their athletes in order to perform better. Little is proven about this fungus in western medicine, your mileage may vary.
Given the interesting background of Kin Kirishima, the flavor is actually surprisingly similar to that of other Imo Shochu. It has an incredibly light and buttery initial flavor. It’s finish is a bit sweet with a tinge of evergreen, but has that unmistakeable imo shochu finish. Part of me thinks that this shochu would be great in a summer cocktail, but feel that a shochu with such an interesting background shouldn’t be covered up with overpowering mixers. If I ever inherit several bottles at once, I may explore this more due to it’s delicate shelf life. Kirishima Distillery recommends drinking this with a large portion of hot water, acknowledges that it is also delicious on the rocks.
Kin Kirishima Imo Shochu is not available in the United States. If you do get your hands on a bottle, and plan to save it for a special occasion, do not throw the box away. The distiller mentions that it is sensitive to light, and should kept hidden from the sun until you are ready to drink it. The distiller sells this for 3,000 yen, or about $30 US Dollars. If you are bringing bottles back from Japan by hand, this bottle is highly recommended.