About Asian Spirits from Japan

About Asian Spirits from Japan
Japan has become a major player in the single malt category; as some examples are considered among the finest in the world. Quality malt whiskey in Japan was first produced in the 1920s; today there are several distilleries that craft products based on single malt Scotch. There are numerous styles from very light to those with a heavy peaty quality. The best examples are aged from 12 to 18 years in wood barrels. The other main spirit in Japan is shochu, a beverage made from any number of ingredients, such as barley, rice, buckwheat or even carrots. Having a clear appearance, a shochu displays a wide range of aromas such as fig, fruit cake, paprika and even marinated mushrooms. Shochu has an alcoholic percentage ranging form 25% to 45% and is served neat, on the rocks or sometimes mixed with fruit juice.

Top Picks for Japan

Asian Spirits

Kirishima Shuzo Akane Kirishima
93 points
$21.99
Best Buy
Brilliant clear color. Fruity, floral, attractive aromas and flavors of violet candies, rosewood, fresh panettone with lady grey tea, fruit stripe gum and fruit loops, and pear blossoms with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a polished, nuanced, long tropical fruit salad, papaya-lychee milkshake, and asian coconut water finish. An ultra-floral botanical garden of a shochu with endless cocktail possibilities; mix as pisco or gin.
Awards: 2017 Best Shochu
93 points $21.99 Best Buy
Gekkeikan Bizan Barley Shochu
92 points
$24.99
Brilliant clear color. Earthy aromas and flavors of wax and parchment paper, moss, plum water, and yeasty dough with a silky, soft, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a tingling, appealing, medium-length powdered sugar, rice licorice candy, and date finish. A clean, food-friendly and lengthy shochu that is a delight to sip; white wine drinkers will love this elegant shochu.
92 points $24.99
Tori Kai Shochu
92 points
$39.99
Clear with a platinum blue cast. Exotic, tropical aromas and flavors of Asian pear, overripe pineapple, banana-papaya custard, and white chocolate mint with a satiny, bright, dryish light-to-medium body and a tingling, elegant, medium-long starfruit and radish, rice pudding, and hint of fennel finish. An exotically flavorful shochu with lots of Daiginjo sake-like qualities.
92 points $39.99
Kirishima Shuzo Kuro Kirishima
91 points
$19.99
Best Buy
Brilliant clear color. Savory aromas and flavors of chestnuts and mushroom on the forest floor, frosted shredded wheat cereal, roasted shallot, and dill and pickling spices with a round, bright, dry-yet-fruity light body and a tingling, complex, long horchata, radish, damson plum, and taro root pudding finish. A superb shochu with delicate waves of complex sweet and savory flavors.
91 points $19.99 Best Buy
Gekkeikan Sweet Potato Shochu
91 points
$24.99
Brilliant clear color. Green, savory aromas and flavors of garlic and chive, roasted chestnut, and pickled cucumber with a satiny, bright, dryish medium body and an even, captivating, medium-long rosehip, dried yellow plum, and gelatin candy finish. A great savory shochu with a delightful range of flavors that will be fun to experiment with in cocktails.
91 points $24.99
Watanabe Sake Brewing Co. Kuramoto No Kakushishochu
91 points
$15
Best Buy
Clear color. Tropical, toasty aromas and flavors of Asian pear, roasted pineapple and rice, toasty nut brittle, and hint of beeswax and clay with a silky, soft, dryish light-to-medium body and a seamless, amusing, medium-length anise seed, powdered milk, and limestone finish. An elegant, fruity, and toasty shochu that has a pleasing combination of sake and white whisky tones.
91 points $15 Best Buy
iichiko Frasco
90 points
$50
Bright clear color. Yeasty aromas of overripe tropical fruits, yeasty banana bread dough, roasted nuts, and strawberry milk with a silky, bright, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a warming, interesting, medium-long vanilla rice pudding and milk, honeyed cucumber and sweet potato, and hint of pepper finish. A powerful and layered shochu.
Satsuma Shuzo Honkaku Shochu "Makurazaki"
90 points
$29
Clear color. Interesting aromas of white balsamic vinegar, roasted chestnuts, and marinated mushrooms with a silky, soft, dry light body and a tingling, interesting, easy bamboo and faint spice finish. An interesting savory shochu with a nice streak of umami.
Kirishima Shuzo Shiro Kirishima
89 points
$19.99
Best Buy
Brilliant clear color. Aromas and flavors of singed herbs and leeks, dusty potato skin, mustard seed, and soy rice cake with a soft, dry-yet-fruity light body and a tingling, breezy citrus rice candy, tapioca, radish, dried ginger, and ginseng and mushroom finish. A delicate savory shochu with a nice tingle for carefree sipping.
89 points $19.99 Best Buy
Satsuma Shuzo Honkaku Shochu "Sakura Shiranami"
89 points
$18
Best Buy
Clear color. Lively aromas and flavors of pickled okra, smoked paprika, roasted nuts, and sausage with a silky, soft, dryish light body and a tingling, refreshing, breezy finish with notes of cream, minerals, forest herbs, and mint paste. A stylish and layered shochu.
89 points $18 Best Buy