If you’re looking to step outside your comfort zone with a unique kind of drink they you can’t go wrong with shochu. Japan’s national spirit is made with a smorgasbord of different ingredients, with one of the most interesting being sesame seeds.
Beniotome Red Maiden Black is the first sesame shochu I’ve tried and it’s one of the most multifaceted drinks I’ve come across on my shochu journey so far.
The Red Maiden is produced by the Beniotome distillery located in the town of Kurume in Fukuoka Prefecture at Kyushu. The drink is a testament to the hard work and craftsmanship of one woman: Haruno Hayashida.
The wife of a local sake brewer, Haruno lived and breathed the sake production lifestyle, but she wanted to create something that was hers. She experimented tirelessly with shochu production until finally coming up with a unique recipe in 1978 at the age of 65.
Haruno’s shochu is made from black sesame, barley, black koji and is aged for three years in steel tanks. Bottled at 25% ABV, the Red Maiden is an award-winning drink that has picked up accolades like the Best Gold Award at the Monde Selection 2009.
Despite the delicate sounding name, the Red Maiden Black has plenty of complexity churning beneath the surface. An aroma of chestnuts, oak and shiitake mushrooms gather on the nose. These savoury notes carry on into an earthy mouthfeel that sticks to the palate, dancing between spicy and sour.
Hints of roasted coffee, toast and sesame seeds linger in the mouth for some time. There’s an overriding oiliness to the shochu that makes it both light and deceptively filling at the same time. Best enjoyed neat but feel free to experiment with the oyuwari (hot water) approach as I can imagine the drink tasting brilliant when warm as well!
Type: Honkaku (Single-distilled)
Ingredients: Black sesame and barley