Food & Drink

Review: 6 Shochus of Honkaku Spirits

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Christopher Pellegrini is attempting to do for Japanese shochu what Ron Cooper did with mezcal. The American ex-pat and writer of The Shochu Handbook is searching for to “join the world with artisanal, koji-fermented spirits of Japan.” Honkaku’s portfolio consists of koji whiskey, shochu, and aged awamori from 22 family-run distilleries established between 1745 and 1947.

We acquired a sampling of six of Honkaku’s shochus — all created from quite a lot of base starches — from three totally different distilleries. Furusawa Distillery was established in 1892 and is present in Miyazaki Prefecture within the far south of Japan. Nishihira Distillery, established in 1927, is on Amami Oshima Island, even additional south. Lastly, Shoro Distillery, established in 1928, can be present in Miyazaki.

How extensively can shochu distillates range? Let’s give this sampling a whirl.

Honkaku Spirits Motoko Shochu (Furusawa Distillery) – Distilled from rice, aged 8-plus years in impartial tanks. Punchy, mild petrol on the nostril, with a lot of mushroomy umami. Related on the palate, with a peppery chunk to it. Plenty of lingering, moody mushroom notes on the end. 70 proof. B / $49

Honkaku Spirits Masako Shochu (Furusawa Distillery) – Distilled from barley, aged eleven-plus years in impartial tanks. A bit brighter on the nostril, with an overripe fruit character to counter a few of the mushroom. A spritz of lemon joins the enjoyable on the palate, with a slight saline character on the end. A lot more energizing and lighter in physique, with residual sweetness. 70 proof. B+ / $47

Honkaku Spirits Mahoko Shochu (Furusawa Distillery) – Distilled primarily from candy potatoes, aged 16-plus years in impartial tanks. Restrained on the nostril, although notes of melon are distinct and full of life. That honeydew word spills over to the palate, once more fairly fruity however tempered by some notes of sandalwood and recent bread. A fantastic shochu. 70 proof. A- / $65

Honkaku Spirits Selephant Shochu (Nishihira Distillery) – Distilled primarily from kokuto sugar, no ageing info. Delicate, virtually vague, with a really delicate mushroom character countering a delicate word of melon and a slight sweetness. Related on the palate, this might simply move for a quiet vodka, other than a delicate trace of chestnuts on the end. 60 proof. B+ / $60

Honkaku Spirits Kana Shochu (Nishihira Distillery) – Distilled from kokuto sugar, aged in oak for at the least one yr, giving it a slight contact of yellow shade. Significantly extra burly on the nostril, due to the influence of the wooden. Toasty oak offers the aroma an sudden astringency, and I don’t overwhelmingly like it right here, and whereas a candy melon word offers the palate some wanted sweetness, that wooden claws on the corners to drag it again all the way down to the earth. The end is on the sharp facet. Nonetheless, distinctive and decidedly distinctive. 60 proof. B+ / $68

Honkaku Spirits Colourful Shochu (Shoro Distillery) – A mix of two candy potato distillates, one grown in 2016, one in 2019, made with a Thai rice starter. No different age knowledge. A return to that heavy umami model — mushroom, turned earth, some leather-based. That is really essentially the most savory shochu within the lot, with parts of each inexperienced and black pepper, hemp rope, and tea leaf — till a gentle sweetness percolates on the end. Issues don’t really feel wholly balanced on this expression, some petrol notes lingering on the end. 60 proof. B / $55

Honkaku Spirits Kana Shochu (Nishihira Distillery)




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