Brand: Satsuma Shiranami
Distillery: Satsuma Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Makurazaki-shi, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: kogane sengan sweet potato (imo)
Koji: white (shiro)
Distillation: normal pressure (joatsu)
Alcohol: 24% (48 proof)
It is difficult to differentiate the experience of drinking sweet potato shochu from drinking Satsuma Shiranami. This may be the definitive flavor profile for an authentic Kagoshima imo shochu. While white koji is used to mellow out the flavor, normal pressure distillation brings out everything it can from the kogane sengan sweet potatoes. Kogane sengan are large yellowish potatoes and the most common potato used in imo shochu production. Satsuma Shuzo uses only fresh potatoes, never frozen, assuring the richest, freshest flavor they can deliver.
Beginning with the classic label evoking waves crashing on the beach (shiranami means “white wave”), this shochu promises a wild ride. The initial nose has the distinctive note of roasted grains and sweet potato. This is not the earthy nose you’ll find with other imo shochus, but another common aroma associated with the style. The taste hits with very slight hints of black pepper and a luscious sweetness as the rich spirit covers the palate, leaving a warm buttery mouth feel and a crisp dry finish.
The Verdict: Highly Recommended
More than any other sweet potato shochu, Satsuma Shiranami tastes like we expect sweet potato shochu to taste. With rounder and fuller flavor than some others, Shiranami is also lighter and more easily accessible than it’s sister brand, Shiranami Kurokoji. This can be enjoyed on the rocks, but the nicest flavor profile really seems to emerge with a 7:3 shochu cold water mix. Regardless, this is a delicious and reasonably priced option for those seeking sweet potato shochu.