Surprisingly I found shochu in Memphis. I’ve taken to stopping and perusing almost every liquor store I pass in a decent neighborhood in hopes of finding hidden gems. I certainly did. I think the proprietor was wondering what in the hell I could be doing with the seemingly random assortment I left with. Just like buying those flattering pants in every color, when you find it, you buy it!
Shochu (sounds like show-chew) is a Japanese distilled spirit that has recently found favor among the younger Japanese drinkers. Evidently, “not your father’s Buick” is a cross cultural thing. Once a low-brow beverage, younger consumers took to shochu because of its lower calorie content and mild flavors.
Shochu can be made from barley, rice, buckwheat, or sweet potatoes. There are about 50 different ingredients shochu can be made from, but there’s even more it cannot be made from. Our author consulted with a shochu expert who said the uninitiated should start with rice shochu because it has a soft taste. Followed by the barley variety because it would have flavors one would be more accustomed to. Lastly, he would have someone try shochu from sweet potato because it has an earthy component that our western pallets may not be fond of. Wouldn’t you know, I’m never one to follow a recommendation.
The distillery I worked for was working on a project making shochu from sweet potatoes and I moved before I got to try any. That’ll have to be added to my list of things to try when I go back for a visit. The shochu I found was also made of sweet potatoes. I found it to be slightly sweet with a hint of sweet potatoes on the nose. Maybe that was the earthiness the expert was referring to? I found this to have a delicate flavor; really almost no flavor. There was a slight alcohol finish, but that dissipated quickly leaving a nice warmth. I was thinking this would certainly get lost in cocktails, but I was delightfully surprised otherwise.
I perused the google-box and came up with a suggestion for another mojito. Here’s what I did:
In a rocks glass, muddle
some cilantro (don’t ask me to quantify)
1 sugar cube
Add 2 ounces shochu and fill glass with ice.
Top with about 2 ounces club soda.
I was quite amazed this delicate little spirit stood up to these flavors. The cilantro was a nice compliment and the earthiness of shochu came through. This is one worth making again and again.
Now that my toes have been pampered and my pallet satiated, all that’s left is to Toast another Tuesday!