Japanese culture has a unique identity, and that goes for Japanese sake as well. Ever since discovering shochu, I’ve been making my way through different blends. No shochu is ever the same as the last one. That comes down to the level of craftmanship from the people in the sake breweries who pour their heart and soul into the work.
The most recent shochu I’ve tried is Shiranami kuro (black). From the first sip I knew it had a distinctive flavour that set it apart from other kinds of sake.
Created by the Satsuma distillery in Kagoshima, Shiranami kuro is a sweet potato shochu. Made with black koji and Kogane Sengan potatoes, this kind of shochu has won several awards. For example, the Shiranami kuro won the 2015 Council Award of Excellence from the Kagoshima Brewers Association.
The Shiranami kuro has a musky, woody scent on the nose. But the taste is completely different. A mild sweetness builds up on the tongue. When drank on the rocks, the sweetness becomes sharper overtime.
The lightness of the shochu makes it easy to drink. Interestingly, I found that there were different layers to the flavour profile. The sweetness mingles with a fruity quality that comes in towards the back of the mouth.
As a pairing suggestion, I’d recommend a bowl of savoury ramen. I had the Shiranami with kakuni tonkotsu from Shoryu. The broth featured caramelised black garlic mayu, braised kakuni pork belly, pak choi, nitamago egg, sesame, red ginger and nori. Sipping the shochu with the broth created a wonderful mixture of sweet and savoury notes.
Type: Single-distilled (honkaku)
Grain: 100% sweet potato (imo)