I have never had much experience drinking Shochu since I came to Japan two years ago. Based on my experience with 鳥飼Torikai, I should have started trying much earlier.
I was introduced to this Kumamoto based Shochu from a TV show (ポツンと1軒屋) that promotes remote places in Japan. In the show, the owner (a very stylish looking 70 year old man) introduced his wares impeccably. Though the point of the show was not to advertise this Shochu, my interest was nevertheless pique.
I was able to buy this in a well stocked local liquor store for a cool 2300 yen. Compared to other rice based Shochu, there was a 50% premium on this brand. It seemed to have won a Monde Selection Award in 1996. This award was clearly printed on the box.
The entire package was certainly well made and designed.
In any case, I poured a glass and had a taste (I drank 3 or 4 glasses before I noticed I was drinking a lot)
Nose: Immediately, you can smell an intense pineapple sweetness that is really surprising despite the Shochu being rice based. I have no idea how they managed to imbue such a flavour.
Palate: The flavour is extremely mild, you can barely taste the pineapple smell despite its intensity. The mouth feel is certainly full bodied and definitely gives you a good impression that you are not downing some watered down swill.
Finish: There is a slight pineapple sweetness going on after you swallow. It lingers for a while as well.
If this is your first time trying a Shochu,you can do worse than buying a Torikai to try. The interesting nose, mild taste with a full bodied texture makes this one a really easy drink. Recommended 🙂