Discover your favorite shochu

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Let’s ask an expert for fun, delicious ways to enjoy shochu, flavor profiles useful for selecting a label, and food that complements shochu.

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Tokyo Shimazake (island liquor)—Honkaku Shochu, or authentic single-distilled shochu, made in the Izu Islands—tends to have a unique, heavy flavor and aroma. Many brands have the rich aroma of concentrated sweetness and the fragrant scent of roasted ingredients. Flavors are also sapid, with a lingering rich, full note followed by the broad aftertaste of highly condensed flavor not found in other local breeds of shochu. Whether enjoyed on the rocks or diluted with hot or cold water, the originality of each brand always shines through. Below are the types and characteristics of Tokyo Shimazake, designed to serve as a guide and help you discover your favorite brand.

Map of Tokyo-made shochu by type

Tokyo Shimazake can’t be described in one word—it ranges in type from highly fragrant, smooth flavored, to full bodied. Here are 17 examples of illustrative brands from each of Tokyo’s shochu distilleries, divided into four types to help you understand the charms of Tokyo Shimazake. Follow this guide both to discover your favorite brand and to enjoy the differences between each type.

●Positioning map and write-up compiled with cooperation from the Sake Service Institute

The SSI administers exams and certification for Kikisake-shi (sake sommelier), the Sake Proficiency Test, and Shochu Kikisake-shi (shochu sommelier). It manages the website Sake Sennin providing useful information on sake and shochu, and organizes jizake festivals featuring local sake breeds from across Japan. Sake Service Institute (SSI)

List of Tokyo-made shochu by type

Below is a list of Tokyo-made shochu by type, presented in the positioning map.

Flavorful

This type is characterized by a fresh flowery aroma and often a simple flavor. Shochu made with various ingredients fall under this type.

13Yaetsubaki
Imo Mugi 25% Alc/Vol

Features flowery hints of loquat, lily, and lime peel with a light, smooth flavor.

IngredientSweet potato, barley

BreweryHachijojima Shuzo GMK

 

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Light

This type features the lightest flavor of all shochu varieties, and can be enjoyed in any way including straight, diluted with water, and mixed with soda.

10Nasakeshima
Mugi 25% Alc/Vol

Features the crisp aroma of Ramune soda, herbs, and minerals with a soft and neutral flavor.

IngredientBarley

BreweryHachijo Kohatsu Co., Ltd.

14Ipponzuri
Mugi 25% Alc/Vol

Features the moderate aroma of kompeito sugar candy, steamed chestnut, and uncooked barley. The smooth shochu has a light, delicate flavor.

IngredientBarley

BreweryHachijo Kohatsu Co., Ltd.

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Rich

This type features the strongest flavor of all shochu varieties. Awamori from Okinawa, and Imo Shochu and other Honkaku Shochu from Kyushu, often fall under this type.

2Gojinka
Imo 25% Alc/Vol

Blends the scents of steamed sweet potato and biscuits. The smooth shochu has a soft flavor and dry aftertaste.

IngredientSweet potato

BreweryTaniguchi Shuzo Y.K.

3Shimajiman
Mugi

Features the sweet, fragrant aroma of barley syrup and chocolate-covered barley puffs. The dense and well-rounded shochu has a sharp aftertaste.

IngredientBarley

BreweryMiyahara Inc.

4Shichifuku Shimajiman
Imo 25% Alc/Vol

Features the sweet and fresh aroma of sweet potato and dry herbs, with a slightly deep, rich flavor.

IngredientBarley

BreweryMiyahara Inc.

5Oyamaichi
Mugi 25% Alc/Vol

Features the aroma of rye bread and fresh pasta. The smooth shochu has a clear and gentle flavor.

IngredientBarley

BreweryMiyakejima Shuzo K.K.

8Kuroshio
Mugi Imo 25% Alc/Vol

Features the heavy aroma of rye bread and dried sweet potato. The slightly mellow and highly condensed flavor is followed by a dry aftertaste.

IngredientBarley&Sweet potato

BrewerySakashita Shuzo Y.K.

11Shimanohana
Mugi 25% Alc/Vol

Features the well-rounded aroma of barley syrup, roasted chestnut, and dried barley head with a full-bodied, rich flavor.

IngredientBarley

BreweryKashitate Shuzo Co., Ltd.

12Shome
Mugi 25% Alc/Vol

Features the aroma of bekkoame candy and toasted rye bread. The smooth shochu has a soft flavor with no grittiness.

IngredientBarley

BreweryKashitate Shuzo Co., Ltd.

 

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Characterful

Varieties that fall under this type include aged shochu and shochu stored in oak barrels, which have a characteristic flavor and aroma.

1Gojinka
Mugi 25% Alc/Vol

Features the fragrant scent of parched barley flour and toasted bread. The smooth shochu has the flavor of bitter chocolate.

IngredientBarley

BreweryTaniguchi Shuzo Y.K.

6Moriwaka
Oak Barrel Stored
Mugi 25% Alc/Vol

The brilliant golden shochu features the mellow aroma of dried apricot and nuts, with a pleasant bitterness and astringency from the oak barrel.

IngredientBarley

BreweryKozushima Shuzo GMK

7Jonnalie
Oak Barrel Stored
Mugi Imo 25% Alc/Vol

The brilliant golden shochu features the aroma of young oak with a somewhat light yet balanced flavor.

IngredientBarley&Sweet potato

BrewerySakashita Shuzo Y.K.

9Nasakeshima
Imo 25% Alc/Vol

Features distinct hints of bitter chocolate, marshmallow, and raw peanuts with a smooth, fine flavor.

IngredientSweet potato

Brewery Hachijo Kohatsu Co., Ltd.

15Aochu Ikenosawa
Imo 35% Alc/Vol

Features the aroma of roasted sweet potato, parched barley flour, starch syrup, and anise. The viscous shochu has a heavy, complex flavor.

IngredientSweet potato

Brewery Aogashima Shuzo GSK

16Aochu Mugi
Mugi 35% Alc/Vol

Features the heavy, complex aroma of uncooked barley, parched barley flour, and chocolate-covered barley puffs. The strong, sweet flavor is followed by a dry aftertaste.

IngredientBarley

BreweryAogashima Shuzo GSK

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