Distillery: Amami-Oshima Shuzo Co., Ltd.
Location: Amami-shi, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan
Grain: 60% kokuto sugar & 40% rice
koji: rice (white koji)
alcohol content: 24%
Jougo was my first introduction to kokuto sugar shochu. Kokuto sugar is a richer, darker Japanese version of western brown sugar. It contains deep molasses notes, and it’s delicious. If you can find kokuto sugar in your local Asian market, pick some up and experiment with it as a replacement for other sweeteners.
Jougo is smooth, sweet, and rounded. It lacks the complexity of many other shochu, but it’s easy drinking. It’s not as sweet as you’d expect from something distilled from a sugar, which is probably due to the spring water added at the end of the distillation process.
I can usually taste a few different flavors throughout a sip of shochu. I can’t always place the flavors, but I do detect distinct tastes. With Jougo there is very little nose and just a faint hint of molasses on the tongue before retreating to a lightly sugared sweetness. Given the simplicity of Jougo‘s pallette, I don’t mind drinking it neat, which is not my usual style. It is very nice with slightly chilled water as well.
The Verdict: Recommended
In my experience, kokuto sugar shochu tend to lack the complexity of imo, awamori, or even mugi shochu, but they are delicious nonetheless. When I’m in the mood to drink without an adventure, I’ll often choose a kokuto shochu bottle and Jougo is definitely the most common, at least in New York City.
(apparently flies like it too – one ended up in my glass as I was writing this)
**Editor’s note: The label has “soju” clearly written on it in the attached photo. However, Jougo is not soju. It’s shochu.