iichiko Silhouette Shōchū

  • Rating: 9
  • Value: 8
Proof: 50 (25%)
Price: $26.99

An exceedingly clean and well-done Shochu!

Notes: This is our first review of Shōchū. Made in Japan, it is distilled from barley. There seem to e two distinct subtypes of Shochu – a more traditional one distilled at a lower proof and a more vodka-like shochu distilled at a higher proof – much like the two types of Genever – the Dude/Vieux System and the neiuwe system. This is also a very complicated spirit with a number of unique ingredients and processes to highlight and explain, so please bear with me. The full story can be found on their website iiciko Shochu.
First elements; Grain; 2-row barley polished and with no additives or sweeteners. The water: iron free from over 1,00 ft of volcanic rock in Oita Prefecture in Kyushu province, an area of great beauty and unspoiled nature. The water is used first to steam the barley to help convert the starch to sugar (essentially a form of malting ).Koji: Koji is a form of yeast and is used widely in Japanese fermentation of many types. In this case, the strain adds citric acid to preserve the barley’s taste. It is used extensively in Japan and produces many umami tastes depending on the variety used.

Second elements; The distillation is only done once ( one pass), but they use a low atmospheric distillation (read partial vacuum ) to capture the more aromatic nose and flavors ( much like perfume distillation, it makes a huge difference in aromatics), and a further but separate distillation is done at atmospheric pressure is done to catch the more robust and richer flavors. The two distillates are then blended. As a once-only distillation, this Shōchū is known a honkaku Shōchū ( the highest quality form of shochu by the distillation method. It is the leading brand in Japan of the barley Shōchū.

Appearance: Clear, leaves every even coat on the glass, which then forms droplets after a bit.

First Impression: Barley in its purest and cleanest form with slight umami notes.

Taste: Very clean! Barley with umami and citrus notes.

Drinks: Note really sure what to mix it with. Think of it as an extremely clean low proof vodka if you must. Quite a delicious sipper to be enjoyed on its own, really. A listing of their cocktail recipes can be found here. 

Bottle: Bell-shaped apothecary-style bottle, Lightly frosted

Other: For a relentless deep dive into Shōchū, click here

Final Thoughts: A very nicely done Shochu

A fast-loading yet visually beautiful and informative site – which is critical to be able to understand Shochu and iichiko Shochu in particular.

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