At first whiff, Nankai smells faintly grassy, which is common in kokuto shochu owing to how kokuto sugar is made from fresh cut cane and that fresh grassiness is a sign of well made kokuto sugar. Sugar cane is, after all, a tall perennial grass. It is still pretty wild that they can capture that after fermentation and distillation.
Lento is the top selling kokuto shochu in Japan, and it is available internationally as well. Try it on the rocks or with sparkling water for a refreshing taste of the Amami Islands. Kanpai!
Kokuto sugar is Japan's top-quality dark sugar tradition. It is one of the world's great "unrefined" sugars, and it's used in cooking, consumed as a snack, or added to the second fermentation when brewing kokuto shochu in Japan's Amami Islands.
I arrived in Amami still jet lagged and confused on where to go. My phone wasn't working. I had no place to stay. No English translations to rely on. No idea which bus to catch (there are no trains in Amami).
Hoppy Beverage Company, which only recently began selling in the New York market, recently hosted their 2,500th radio show (as a post-war phenomenon a radio show was a natural form of advertising) at SakaMai in the Lower East Side. At this invite-only private party an ice flume was used to pour Hoppy’s sweet potato beer (not yet available in the US market) and the hundreds of guests enjoyed Hoppy, a rokugo performance (traditional Japanese “stand-up” comedy performed in kimono kneeling on a cushion), and live music.
How do you describe Hoppy? The straightforward, technical way, is an ultra-low proof (<1% ABV) malt liquor from Japan. But that doesn't come close to what Hoppy really is.