When I moved to Japan one of my hopes was to start secondary aging Okinawan awamori at home. While it is nearly impossible to source these ceramic pots in the US, it is not that difficult in Japan so long as you are willing to pay. These are typically reserved for long-aged, or kusu awamori (古酒泡盛), which can run hundreds of dollars per liter especially in the traditional decorative ceramic jars, or "kame" (甕).
Kusu, or old spirit, is an Okinawan Awamori aged at least 3 years. According to Japanese law the youngest spirit in the bottle must be at least 3 years old - Awamori producers have a long history of mixing older spirits with younger spirits as the older spirits are consumed.
Most Americans have heard of Okinawa. There's been an American military base on the main island since the end of World War II. However, Okinawa as part of Japan is a relatively recent phenomenon. For centuries Okinawa was its own country, a cluster of hundreds of islands off the southern coast of Japan, stretching to within a few kilometers of the island nation of Taiwan. A rich culture with its on language, monarchy, economy, and culture. It was not and even today is not "Japanese". As a result of this long history of independence Okinawa has its own food & drink traditions. And that's what we're really interested in here at Kampai!
As with most Awamori, Shimauta is a rich, flavorful, herbal spirit. An earthy nose hints at the flavor you expect from an Awamori. The warm mouthfeel promises a richness that does not disappoint. The herbal flavor is never overpowering, but also does not hide. There is the slightest hint of sweetness, but it is just promised, not delivered. The herbal (again) finish lingers into a buttery end.
This Awamori is a fine example of the spirit. It has a strong herbal nose that is very rich on the palate. The strong herbal flavor subsides into a moderate licorice or anise flavor before settling into a smooth neutral finish. It has a warm, earthy mouthfeel that’s not at all unexpected from the herbal scent. It’s hard to place the taste beyond herbal, except that it tastes quite a bit like a lighter version of the Taiwanese & Chinese spirit, Kaoliang, a sorghum spirit that’s a much higher alcohol content than most Awamori.