The SG Shochu MUGI wraps several barley shochu identities into one. It's lightly barrel-aged and carries the associated sweet notes. But there's also a graininess that is revealed when the temperature of the drink drops. It's a versatile barley shochu that can be enjoyed a variety of ways.
"Made with pure water long loved by the fireflies." This is the statement Kougin No Sasayaki uses to try to draw you in. For me it evokes a riverside on a summer evening with fireflies flitting about as children chase them and adults clean up after the picnic. Hard to imagine shochu at a picnic, but I suppose on the banks of the Bansho River in Kyushu (where 90% of shochu is made and consumed), that's exactly what you'd find.
While iichiko silhouette is the first shochu we'd ever tried and remains a staple in introducing the uninitiated to the spirit, iichiko seirin is an even lighter mugi shochu made with the same distillation process, but cut to a lower 20% alcohol by volume with fresh spring water prior to bottling.
Ginza no Suzume Kohaku may be the first shochu I tried that showed just how diverse and complex this style of spirit can be. Ginza is a barley shochu, much like iichiko, which I consider a super easy drinking, mild, tasty starter-shochu, yet the two couldn’t be more different. Ginza is aged in repurposed American white oak bourbon barrels. This gives the shochu its yellowish tint and oaky, smokey nose and taste. On the pallette it starts with the strangely oaken, earthy flavor that transforms into a sweet caramel.