Best Inexpensive Asian Spirits

218133
Kirishima Shuzo
Akane Kirishima
Brilliant clear color. Attractive, fruity aromas and flavors of kirschwasser, dried apricot, and spiced honeydew with a satiny, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a seamless, layered, long powdered sugar, pistachio oil, lilac and orange blossom water, and pink pepper and radish finish. A delicious and remarkably fruity shochu that drinks a bit like a fine eau-de-vie.
93 points $11 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
218131
Kirishima Shuzo
Kuro Kirishima
Clear color. Roasted, complex, spicy aromas and flavors of vanilla caramel bonbon, dark toasted nut bread, toasted whole grain, and dill pickled tomato with a silky, soft, dry light body and a seamless, interesting, medium-long almond oil, chestnut honey on fennel, light caramel pudding, and peppery spices finish. An elegant and nuanced shochu with fine flavor and balance; try mixing like a rye whisky.
92 points $9 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
218130
Kirishima Shuzo
Shiro Kirishima
Clear color. Grainy, roasted, umami aromas and flavors of salty dark roasted nuts, soy rice cakes, and roasted barley soup in a clay pot with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a tingling, nuanced, medium-long chestnut skin, vanilla milk, plantain, and radish finish. A very interesting and savory shochu with tons of roasted umami aromas and flavors; this will be fun to mix with like a whisky.
91 points $9 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
218129
Watanabe Sake Brewing Co.
Kuramoto No Kakushishochu
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
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
218215
Charm
Soju
Clear color. Aromas and flavors of nougat and cream of wheat with maple with a silky, bright, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a silky, compelling, breezy vanilla ice milk, hint of mocha flan, and powdered sugar finish. A lovely, flavorful soju that is sure to please.
90 points $2.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
208208
Hite
Soju
Clear color. Faint aromas and flavors of chalk with a soft, dry-yet-fruity light body and a silky, quick finish with accents of powdered sugar, marshmallow, and porcelain. A nice simple soju.
89 points $1.20 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
208026
Satsuma Shuzo
Honkaku Shochu "Sakura Shiranami"
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
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
212095
Kirishima Shuzo
"Ho" Green Label Honkaku Shochu
Medium slivery straw color. Rich, oaky, spicy aromas of brown spices, cedar bark, roasted nuts, and peppercorns with a silky, racy, dry medium-to-full body and a warming, subtle, long caramel milk, oak, peppery radishes, and ginseng mint gum finish. A nice oak aged, Canadian whisky-like shochu, that will be fun to mix with.
88 points $8 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
208027
Satsuma Shuzo
Satsuma Shochu "Kuro Shiranami"
Clear color. Lively aromas of fig bread, exotic nuts, delicate spice, and molasses with a supple, soft, dry-yet-fruity light body and a tingling, peppery spice, ginger root, and radish finish.
88 points $18 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
203139
Son Tinh
Nep Phu Loc Premium Liquor
Clear. Very mild nose with a hint of green pear and rice candy. Soft and delicate on the palate with a silky, dryish light body and a balsa, powdered sugar, and tapioca accented finish with noticeable peppery warmth. Rather like a more robust shochu.
86 points $8.20 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab