Distillery: Nishi Shuzo Co, Ltd.
Location: Minami-satsuma, Kagoshima prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Grain: 83% kogane sengan sweet potato (imo), 17% rice (kome)
Koji: yellow (ki)
Alcohol: 25% (50 proof)
We ring in the New Year with a premium honkaku shochu. Tomo No Hozan is a sweet potato shochu using yellow koji, which is most often found in sake.
Like so many imo shochus, this one has that earthy nose. Fresh dirt. But there’s an added element here. A hint of wild flowers. What makes it unique from other imo shochus is the yellow koji, which gives it much more floral aroma and palate. Tomi No Hozan is even drinkable neat. A buttery mouth feel accompanies the pleasantly sweet floral taste. Oyuwari (hot water) really opens up the flavor, tasting almost like a tea rather than a liquor, though the burn gives away its true nature. The finish is neutral to sweet with a unexpectedly pleasant buttery aftertaste.
The Verdict: Highly Recommended
Tomi No Hozan may just be the perfect imo shochu for people who aren’t sure they like imo shochu. It’s refined, complex, and thoroughly enjoyable. Even for imo drinkers, this will not disappoint. It won’t give you the big imo flavor you might expect, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable drinking experience. However, it could become an expensive habit as one of the higher priced bottles available in the U.S.