Japanese shochu is one of the most intriguing types of alcoholic drinks in the world. The range of ingredients and flavours make it both complex and memorable. Through discovering sake experts like Christopher Pellegrini and John Gauntner, I’ve been inspired to taste as many different types of shochu as possible.
Kannoko mugi (barley) shochu is one of the most interesting variations I’ve had recently. The name translates to ‘river protected by the gods’ and is associated with a stream in South Kagoshima. With a similar profile to western whisky, I found the Kannoko to be both familiar and new.
Created by the masterful Satsuma Shuzo company, there’s plenty to love about Kannoko shochu. It’s single distilled and made with 100% barley and white koji. Then, it’s aged in oak barrels for three years and bottled.
I came across the Kannoko shochu in a spectacular Japanese restaurant called Yuzu in Manchester. Before taking my first sip, I detected a fairly neutral aroma. This contrasted heavily with the taste. A warm, woody texture came through on the tongue. The initial flavour was sharp, reminding me of the kind of oaky sensations that I’ve tasted in Scotch whisky.
Having the Kannako served on the rocks was a good idea. It added a level of sweetness and mellowed out the shochu. When paired with a meal of katsu chicken, miso soup and rice, the shochu had even more flavour. The woodiness soaked into the food and provided an umami sensation.
Smooth and wholesome, I’d recommend Kannoko to people who are looking to start their journey into shochu. It shares many similarities with traditional whisky, while standing out as a unique drink. Buy a bottle and let me know what you think!
Type: Single-distilled (honkaku)
Grain: 100% barley (mugi)