Today, I'll introduce you to Satsuma Shiranami which used to be my go-to shochu in Japan. I would get home late from work, turn on the TV and settle down into my couch and have this shochu on the rocks. It relaxed my exhausted body and induced a deep sleep. The next morning, I would get ready for another day of work.
First, let me tell you about imo (sweet potato) shochu. Imo shochu is earthy, aromatic, and full of flavor. It spearheaded the shochu boom of the early 2000s in Japan. A bit of an acquired taste, it becomes pleasant as long as you drink it more and more. It is important to keep drinking. Imo shochu goes well with hot water (oyuwari), which brings out the aromatics and dimensions. Imo shochu is generally good with heavier foods, like fattier meats, grilled or stewed. It is also good with Chinese food.
Variation: Imo (sweet potato)
ABV : 25%
Distiller: Satsuma Shuzo (1936)
Washi's Tip: This shochu is best served on the rocks or oyuwari (with hot water)
Shiranami is earthy, smoky, robust and edgy. It might be hard for shochu beginners, because of the funkiness. The first time I had a imo shochu, my face distorted from this scent. Just keep trying, it will become pleasant.
Shiranami is distilled in region well-known for growing sweet pototoes. A bottle of Shiranami is relatively cheap (about ¥900! Although more expensive in the States at about $25) and you can find it at any convenient store in Japan. It's a classic standard, which is popular for its good pricepoint and quality. It is a great example of a imo shochu, that pairs well with oilier foods. It is edgy when served on the rocks, while oyuwari (6 shochu: 4 hot water) will be milder and evoke deeper aromas. This will make you feel like "I'm home".
Shochu doesn't cheat you. Shochu always stands by you. Take your shochu time.