Sweet Potato Shochu (imo shōchū 芋焼酎) is the most popular style of shochu in Japan, making up nearly 50% of sales. They are also the most flavorful and interesting.
For the uninitiated, sweet potato shochu may be off putting with herbal, unfamiliar flavors or aromas that do not reflect the baked sweet sweet potatoes we grew up with in the west. This is because very few of the sweet potatoes used to make shochu are food potatoes. Rather, new varieties such as kogane sengan and joy white have been developed to offer interesting aromas, high starch content, and high crop yields for shochu production.
However, once you get past the initial surprise, you may find that sweet potato shochu is your preferred drink. That’s what has happened to most of us.
If you’re ready to try imojōchū for yourself, we recommend Kuratake as a nice introduction to the style. It’s light, not overwhelming, but if you’re ready to go full on into the rich earthiness that it’s known for, then you should start out with Kuro Godai.
Without further explanation, here are our compiled sweet potato shochu reviews so far.
Top 10 US Market Sweet Potato Shochu
Ikkomon Made with sweet potato koji. A dry, peppery, delicious shochu.
Kappa No Sasoi Mizu A lower alcohol, but full flavored imo shochu. Delicious.
Kiccho Hozan A balanced, earthy black koji sweet potatos shochu.
Kozuru Kuro A rich, sweet imo with notes of maple syrup & molasses.
Kura No Shikon A traditionally distilled black koji imo shochu with a rich and delicious flavor profile.
Kuro Isanishiki An extremely dry, earthy imo. Perfect for otsumami (drinking snacks).
Satoh Kuro An unbelievably rich sweet potato shochu with roasted notes.
Satsuma Shiranami A classic imo shochu made with white koji and traditional pressure distillation.
Tomi No Hozan This is a premium imo made with yellow koji. Complex and refined.
Tenshi No Yuwaku The most expensive import shochu on the US market and worth it – an undiluted shochu aged for a decade in sherry casks.
Recommended US Market Sweet Potato Shochu
Aisome We are taken with this shochu. It’s affordable, has a lovely bottle, and interesting flavor.
Aka Kirishima A very popular seasonal red sweet potato shochu.
Akamaoh A sweet, balanced smooth imo shochu aged in clay pots for a year.
Jinkoo The Perfect Skies shochu featured on JAL flights, won us over with its balanced flavor.
Kagemusha A balanced, nicely priced imo. Definitely worth drinking.
Kaido iwai no aka This is a light, mellow imo that if you didn’t know better you’d think was another grain.
Kaikouzu This is one “big” imo with tons of flavor and aroma. Not for the uninitiated, but a treat if you like imo.
Kuratake A surprisingly light and interesting shochu from Kumamoto.
Kuro Godai An unfiltered, robust, earthy shochu.
Kuro Kirishima A solid entry and a good introduction to imo shochu for the uninitiated.
Kurokame A really lovely example of the imo style, yet affordable!
Satsuma Godai The last samurai shochu delivers on quality and value.
Satsuma Hozan Complex white koji shochu from the famous Nishi Shuzo in Kagoshima.
Satsuma Mura A bold, earthy, dry traditionally distilled imo shochu. A mouthful of complexity.
Shiranami Kurokoji An affordable, flavorful imo.
Shiroku-No-Gon Dryness permeates thanks to earthy, herbal, and floral notes throughout.
Tenson Kourin A rich, complex, yet affordable sweet potato shochu.
Japan Domestic Market Shochu (not yet available in the US)
Aka Mosaku A red potato shochu from Kumamoto Prefecture with overt notes of peanut butter.
Kohitten An oak aged imo shochu with a rich, luscious palate. Unique in our experience.
Maou One of the 3 M’s in Japan. A sweet, delicate sweet potato shochu.