Brand: Kappa No Sasoi Mizu (河童の誘い水)
Distillery: Kyoya Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Nichinan City, Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 83% red sweet potato (aka imo) & 17% rice (kome)
Koji: white (shiro)
Distillation: low pressure (genatsu)
Alcohol: 20% (40 proof)
What’s in a name? It helps to understand the origins of Kappa No Sasoi Mizu, which is literally translated to “Kappa pump priming”, but more subtly refers to the allure of the mythical Kappa, which will drown you if you come to close to the water (mizu). More subtly the Kappa is known to sometimes seduce women, which would explain this shochu most fully.
Kappa No Sasoi Mizu is a robust, flavorful imo shochu with a twist. It’s not as strong and flavorful as the nose would lead you to believe. With all of the dark, rich scent of any of the traditional premium sweet potato shochus, this shochu cuts to just 20% alcohol, lowering the shochu to water ratio an additional 17% to 21% (4-5% total alcohol content) compared to other U.S. import shochus. This strategy results in a more drinkable, less harsh shochu that has both a fragrant nose and a delicious taste. Kappa begins with a smooth, mellow sweet taste with ephemeral hints of caramel. The roasted dirty potato flavors follow, but only by adding complexity. They’re never overpowering. A dry, almost bitter finish leaves you curious how such a low alcohol shochu can provide so much character. The secret to that is in the red potatoes, which provide a much more robust flavor profile than the other sweet potatoes used in shochu production.
The Verdict: Recommended
With the low alcohol content, subtle, but complex flavor, and lovely bottle, this shochu is directed precisely at the female shochu drinking market. This is not the only shochu that targets women in the wake of the sweet potato shochu boom, but it may be one of the best at achieving that goal. Given the low alcohol content and relatively light flavor, for shochu drinkers this is best served straight or perhaps with a dash of cold water to brighten it up. Drinking it on the rocks really mellows out the flavors almost entirely.