We at ShochuDistilled would like to be a one stop shop for all information about Shochu. That said, when a website puts out useful information, we feel its our responsibility to make our readers aware. New York Mutual Trading Corp. recently updated their website dedicated to shochu. A bit interesting is the fact that their obligatory promotional information links are all currently dead. That said, their FAQ is up and quite interesting, and the highlight of their website is a batch of 41 drink recipes that was created by Gen Yamamoto of Lounge Zen in Teaneck NJ.
Though I don’t make it out to Teaneck often, the recipes look worth a try. They range from obvious shochu versions of classics like the Pure Screwdriver to drinks that are more tailored to asian ingredients, such as the Towari of the Soba-ya. We look forward to sampling and experimenting with these drink recipes soon!
Kanji: よかいち 米
Distillery: TAKARA SHUZO
Type: Rice Shochu
Available in USA: Yes
With the number of Japanese shochu distilleries coming from the south west region of Kyushu in Japan, it’s a pleasant surprise to be reviewing a shochu from Kansai. Takara Distillery is a relatively large maker of different types of alcohol from the city of Kyoto. This allows them to setup their own companies around the globe and import their products without the help of Japanese trading companies. Their background and model is unique in the shochu industry and I look forward to trying more of their products.
Yokaichi Kome shochu is made with a the same type of rice that is used in the production of sake. Takara Distillery polishes the rice 30 percent before using it in the distilling process. It’s fermented at lower tempratures using yellow koji instead of black or white koji. Yellow koji is used in sake production and results in a light taste.
The flavor of Yokaichi Kome is fairly light thought not quite as smooth as Hakutake Shiro shochu. Both taste similar to a vodka, though it is a bit like comparing Grey Goose vodka with Stolichnaya. Similar to those vodka brands, both of these brands of shochu are acceptable but Hakutake Shiro is deffinitely the smoother shochu that is easier to drink if you prefer your shochu neat. One note, my first couple of sips were quite strong with a personality that was more remeniscent of an imo shochu. This was the only time I realized I was drinking a 50 proof alcohol. It quickly mellowed and remained smooth and easy to drink after breathing and mixing with water for a few minutes.
The one notable positive of Yokaichi Kome is that it is a great value. I found it at a local wine shop for $21 for a 750 ml bottle. Its a good value at this price. It’s a tremendous value at Linwood’s price of $11.98. I plan to be experimenting with shochu in mixed drinks that involve more that my current repertoire of shochu, water, and ice. At these prices it is a acceptable drink on the rocks but yet not so expensive that you feel bad about mixing it with juices or other sweet mixers.
Distillery: NISHIYOSHIDA SHUZO
Type: Mugi Shochu (Barley)
Koji: Taste like it should be black, but we’re guessing
Available in USA: Yes
Kintaro Baisen Mugi Shochu (Barley) is produced by the Nishi Yoshida Distillery in Fukuoka prefecture. Nishi Yoshida may have the most inspired company moto of all Japanese shochu distillers with the mtoto “Making a serving of shochu is making a smile”. Though we at Shochu Distilled review many different types of mugi shochu what is unique about Kitaro is the fact that it is made with roasted mugi (barley).
Kintaro Baisen Mugi (barley) shochu is both a unique and interesting. Nishi Yoshida’s website describes the flavor as roasted wheat. Having never eaten roasted wheat, we can neither confirm or deny this description. We did pick up notes of dark chocolate, and not unlike the Nishi Yoshida’s description we did taste the flavor of roasted peanut. Many types of shochu do well as low calorie alternatives in mixed drinks that normally call for vodka. This is not one of those types of shochu. It has far too much personality to be used as such a neutral base. This is a deep and flavorful shochu that is great either with a dash of water or on the rocks. Nishi Yoshida recommends this shochu as a side to either grilled or fried chicken. I would tend to agree with this recommendation. I would also say that this is an appropriate drink for a whiskey drinker on a hot day, or great for a shochu drinker on a chilly evening.
Though not common Kintaro Baisen Mugi Shochu does technically exist in America. Let me clarify, when I say “not common” I really mean “has absolutely no foot print online in english, period.” This being said, I did try this at the fantastic Shigure Sake Bar. This establishment will be reviewed in future posts. In the meantime I’ll mention that as a shochu drinker, this is one more place where shochu is second to sake. That said, though having few types of shochu, what they have is quite unique. It’s well worth the trip down to TriBeCa.