Distillery: Kumejima’s Kumesen Co.
Prefecture: Okinawa Prefecture, Kume Island
Available in USA: Yes (*)
Our newest Awamori review since Ryukyu Ohcho and Kikunotsu V.I.P. Gold, happily it’s the highest rated awamori to date as well. As the name of the distillery suggests, Kumejima’s awamori comes from Kume Island. Kumejima is located 60 miles west of of Naha. It’s picturesque location is ideal for making awamori due to it’s abundance of pure fresh water.
Kumesen Awamori is incredibly entertaining to drink. It was strong enough to have flavor but not over powering. It’s a bit earthy with a pepper kick that was interesting but not overwhelming in spice. The shochu ends with a bit of vanilla that rounds out the experience nicely. The distiller recommended this shochu neat, on the rocks, or with warm water. The starch like flavor is incredibly rewarding on the rocks during a hot humid day.
So you’ll notice that I put an asterisk next to the affirmative answer about this shochu being available in the United States. In the USA you can get an Awamori of the same name, but its a different bottle and a different proof. The Japanese Kumesen awamori comes in at 60 proof while the American bottle is 48 proof. This is odd because American tend to not prefer their alcohol watered down, and neither shochu or awamori is expensive to begin with. I have a suspicion that this has something to do with American import taxes as this isn’t the first awamori or shochu that I have seen with the alcohol content lowered, and 48 proof is unusually common among the Japanese imports. So all this being said, you can’t buy 60 proof KumeJima’s Kumesen awamori in America, but you can buy something that at a minimum is similar, and hopefully simply requires you to be a bit lighter in your helping of water or rocks. Astor Wines and Spirits carries the American version for $22.00 USD. For this price, its a great option given the limited number of awamori brands that are available in here.