One of the many challenges of introducing Americans to shochu is in getting them to understand what it is and how to enjoy it. Kitaya Shuzo, in cooperation with Club Macanudo, Cohiba Cigars, and the Robb Report, attempted to help with an event on Manhattan's Upper East Side on Monday, August 27th.
Kitaya Shuzo is a nihonshu (sake) and shochu producer in Fukuoka Prefecture and the first stop on our shochu distillery tour. Seikai Ishizuka and I traveled nearly an hour south of Hakata (main station in Fukouka City) on a commuter train to reach Yame, a city of less than 40,000 people in southern Fukuoka Prefecture. There we were met by a Kitaya representative who drove us to the distillery.
I've decided to take a pilgrimage. This isn't easy for me since I don't speak much Japanese outside of restaurants and my “real” career is busier than ever, but I booked a trip to Japan this summer. In fact, I'm on Japan Airlines (JAL) flight #5 from JFK to Tokyo Narita as I write this. Planning this trip has been so daunting, I've only been able to tweet about it. I realized on my way to the airport that many of my friends didn't even realize I was going. A text from our graphic designer read, “Hey man, plans today?” I replied, “Heading to Japan.” He replied, “Hot damn. When you back?”
Jinkoo, which means “perfect sky”, is a rich, lush imo shochu that has long been available on Japan Airlines (JAL) flights, at least for business class travelers. Which came first? The name or the JAL contract? This imo is distilled from Satsuma sweet potatoes from the Kagoshima Prefecture at the south end of Kyushu Island (Fukuoka is in the north of the island).
Vast shochu selection at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, NJ. Easily the largest shochu selection I’ve seen outside of Japan. Really impressive selection.
What to choose?!
I came home with:
Gyokuro – a green tea shochu ($28.99)
Jinkoo – a mugi (barley) shochu from the same distiller ($28.99)
Kagemusha – an imo (sweet potato) shochu ($19.99)
Akanone Ninjin – a carrot shochu ($34.99)
Toki No Kokuin – a rice shochu ($24.99)
Enma – a mugi shochu ($29.99)
Akamaoh – an imo shochu ($24.99)
This represents just a small portion of their selection. I see many, many trips back to Mitsuwa in my future.… Read More “Mitsuwa Shochu Aisle”