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Jyunmai Shochu 'Shiro' Junmai Kama-Shochu 750ml

Jyunmai Shochu 'Shiro' Junmai Kama-Shochu 750ml

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Takahashi Hakutake 'Shiro' Junmai Kama-Shochu

Takahashi Junmai Shochu Shiro (Distilled Spirits Rice 25% 750ml)

Not many junmai kuma shochus are available in the United States. These are shochus made with polished Japanese rice, the same polishing process used in sake (nihon-shu) production. "Junmai" refers to rice that has been polished to at least 70% (30% of the outer grain removed). Hakutake Shiro is rice-based polished to 60%. Only kome shochus produced in the Kuma River Valley can be referred to as "Kuma-shochu" (sounds closer to kumajochu). The pure, clean river water and fertile valley provide ideal conditions for rice shochus production. The Japanese government goes so far as to designate "kumajochu" as a geographical indication similar to "champagne" in France or "bourbon" in the US. This is the only area with a geographical indication for kome shochu.
That's all great, but what is it? Well, Hakutake Shiro has a very light, clean aroma. Not overpowering, not much alcohol note. It has a vaguely sake-like nose, but sake tends to have a stronger, more present smell from the abundant fatty acids. Shiro has a lighter scent than that.
The taste starts off semi-sweet with a smooth transition to a buttery, umami middle, then lingering into a fresh, dry finish. Hakutake Shiro proved particularly difficult to describe using English, so I enlisted my friend and NY Shochu Tasting Contest champion, Seikai Ishizuka, to help me with the description. True to his championship status he sniffed the glass, took a sip, and said, "Rice. Steamed rice. Have you ever steamed rice? At home? Japanese rice? This is what it smells like. Tastes good after you steam it and let it cool ." So there you have it. A kumajochu that tastes like steamed rice. It may seem like I'm poking fun at Seikai for its seemingly obvious description, but I was really impressed because the answer was so simple.

Strongly recommended
Hakutake Shiro is a beautiful, balanced kumajochu in the best tradition of the style. While smooth enough to drink straight, the rocks really smooth out the alcohol and make this something to drink with any light meat or fish dish. Making mizuwari (mixed with ice water) will further lighten it while Takahashi-san assures me that it's wonderfully aromatic when made oyuwari (with hot water). I will try that winter come.

Ingredients: Rice, rice malt
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