Shochu is one of my favourite spirits and the amount of ingredients that can be used to make it is one of its main appeals. On my shochu journey I’ve tried sweet potato, rice, barley, kokuto (brown sugar) and a category that’s blown my mind recently is soba (buckwheat).
Specifically, Takara towari soba shochu blew my mind because of how good it tastes and here are my thoughts.
This shochu is produced by Takara Shuzo located in Miyazaki Prefecture. The distillery started in 1842 and has developed into one of Japan’s largest international conglomerates and producers of shochu and sake.
Towari is a 100% buckwheat honkaku (single-distilled) shochu that is unique because of how it’s made. An excellent review from Kanpai US explains why:
“If you’ve tried other soba shochus, you’re probably used to their lightly nutty aromas and flavours while still finding them light and easy drinking. Towari takes this in a completely different direction by using 100% soba.
Most other soba shochus blend rice and even barley during the fermentation processes in order to smooth out the rich flavours of the buckwheat. Takara Shuzo has figured out how to not only ferment soba, but also to grow soba koji to allow for the removal of rice or barley from the fermentation process.”
In addition, Towari is distilled at 25% ABV and this low number definitely contributes to its drinkability.
I tried Towari two ways. The first was on the rocks and the second was straight up. Both were awesome drinking experiences and the main aromas I got from the shochu were fragrant stone fruits and melon.
Drinking Towari with ice revealed a mellow, smooth texture that burst with flavours of rye bread, melon, earth, mushroom and peach. It went down easily and came off with a short finish.
When trying the shochu straight, the earthier notes became stronger and keeping it at chilled or room temperature was a good call. That said, I could also see Towari served well in the oyuwari style (mixed with hot water).
The verdict is that Towari is a shapeshifting kind of shochu that’ll please beginners and maniacs. There’s a strong balance of flavours, a sessionable texture and a clean finish that’ll leave room for more.