The Tenguzakura brand from Kagoshima's Shiraishi Shuzo focuses on organic, often estate-grown (or grown nearby the distillery) sweet potatoes and terroir-driven fermentations. This Tenguzakura Yakiimo, while part of the same 2016 distillation run as the domestic brand, is a limited bottling available only in the U.S. This expression is bottled at 35% ABV instead of 34%, so pulled a touch earlier from the aging tank than the rest, and closer to genshu (tank strength).
It uses Koganesengan sweet potatoes which are roasted on hot tetsu (iron) plates instead of wood fire, adding deep woodsy aromas and developed sugars overall. Black koji rice in the primary fermentation gives just the right amount of intensity and funk to this complex shochu. This one is just bizarre, but in the best way possible. On the nose we get grapefruit rind, green apple, cascara, and agave. The palate is an onslaught of numbing black pepper, molasses, bright temple incense, smoke, and marzipan. Look out for the surprise pineapple on the finish (it'll take a while).
- Distilled in Kagoshima, Japan by Shiraishi Shuzo
- Distilled from organic koganesengan yakiimo (roasted sweet potato) and kome (rice)
- ABV 35% / Koji: Black (sweet potato) / Distillation: atmospheric
- Aged: 5 years in clay pots, matured an additional 6 months in peat barrels
- 24 oz (720 ml)