How to drink Shochu
Let's start with what shochu is.
Shōchū (焼酎) is a Japanese distilled beverage less than 45% alcohol by volume. It is typically distilledfrom rice (kome), barley (mugi), sweet potatoes (satsuma-imo), buckwheat (soba), or brown sugar(kokutō), though it is sometimes produced from other ingredients such as chestnut, sesame seeds, potatoes or even carrots.
Typically shōchū contains 25% alcohol by volume, which is weaker than whisky or standard-strength vodka but stronger than wine and sake. It is not uncommon for multiple-distilled shōchū, which is more likely to be used in mixed drinks, to contain up to 35% alcohol by volume.
Shochu we have here, is made out of sweet potato, It's called Kuro Kirishima Imo. Imo means sweet potato in Japanese. this is from Miyazaki prefecture, though they don’t receive quite as much love in Australia. Rice & barley shochus tend to be smoother and easier to drink and since there is no equivalent spirit distilled with sweet potato, imo shochus tend to have stronger flavors than we’re accustomed to from a clear spirit.
Kuro Kirishima is a nice, relatively smooth entry into the world of imo shochu thanks to the rice content. With a soft, faintly yammy nose, the first thing that strikes you about the flavor is that it’s much richer than the barley or rice shochus. The taste is just a hint smokey, lightly sweet, with an underlying complexity that’s difficult to describe. It’s still clear so the rich flavor is unexpected. There is an almost warm mouthfeel despite the ice with the pleasant aftertaste of melon. It lingers unobtrusively on the pallet until you take a bite or have another sip.
Shōchū should not be confused with sake.
Its taste is usually far less fruity and depends strongly on the nature of the starch used in the distilling process. Its flavor is often described as "nutty" or "earthy". Shōchū is drunk in many ways according to season or personal taste:
- its own with nothing added.
- on the rocks, i.e., mixed with ice
- diluted with room temperature or hot water
- mixed with oolong tea or fruit juice as chūhai, a mixed drink consisting of shōchū, soda, ice and some flavoring, often lemon, grapefruit, apple or ume
- mixed with a low-alcohol beer-flavored beverage known as hoppy
Here is a poster shows you how to drink shochu with hot water. why don't we try next time when we dine in Japanese restaurant?