Before the pandemic began, our bar in the back of the shop was a groovy little spot where you could relax and enjoy a variety of sake and the best shochu we have to offer stateside. While our shochu catalog has grown since then to an array of nearly 60 regularly stocked offerings, my one gripe is that we haven't been able to share any of them with you at our shop; I'm nostalgic for the old UM bar days. Until we can get it up and running for you all again, I thought it would be fun to talk about an old favorite at our bar and recent restock in the shop, Akazaru.
Akazaru is an imo (sweet potato) shochu distilled by Kagoshima's Komasa Jyozo. You may recognize their name from the wildly popular Komasa Gin, a citrusy delight which held court (and gained many fans) during our Summer of Japanese Gin campaign. Komasa has a long history of distilling shochu, and currently offers more than eight brands of shochu for the local Kagoshima market with numerous different expressions under that umbrella.
Made with white koji rice as the fermentation starter, the magic of this shochu comes from the use of "Purple Sweet Road" (Norin #56) sweet potatoes, dubbed by Komasa on the label of this shochu as murasaki imo no ousama, or, "The King of Purple Sweet Potatoes." These are high marks, and this shochu makes good on that name. Akazaru offers supple creaminess, mellow tropical fruit, and a satisfying finish. I love this the rocks, with soda, or oyuwari (pictured: 3 parts shochu: 2 parts soda). This is an approachable and comforting shochu any way you slice it, and for this price point, it's hard to find a better buy in the imo category.
We are trying to keep this in stock, but are at mercy to the stochastic world of international shipping, so be sure to grab a bottle or two of this trusty shochu while stock allows.
I hope to be able to share this shochu with you again soon. Thanks for reading.