It has been ages since I wrote about shochu, so it is high time I related my further adventures with this incredible Japanese product. First of all, I owe a small explanation to those who still don’t know it. Shochu (焼酎) is a Japanese alcohol distilled with different ingredients (sweet potatoes, rice and barley are the most popular) and usually has a 20-25% alcoholic content. It is becoming more and more popular in Japan, especially among women, who, apart from enjoying the taste, must be happy to discover it has very few calories (35 kcal in 50ml, e.i. 1/2 of standard vodka’s calories). Shochu also allegedly reduces heart attacks and strokes risk and it is practically hangover free.
Anyway, this lack of shochu-related posts doesn’t mean I haven’t been enjoying it, discovering its new varieties, brands, thinking about the difficult moments the Japanese go through, drinking to their good health and wishing them all the best. After the sweet potato shochu, the barley “IIchiko” shochu and the barley shochu with shiso, I would like to present and praise the qualities of Shochu “Towari”, my first buckwheat, or soba shochu (そば焼酎).
Shochu “Towari” comes from Miyazaki prefecture (the distiller’s website), has 25% alcohol content and is distilled from buckwheat, called soba in Japanese, used to produce soba noodles. Those, who have tasted soba noodles, buckwheat grains or anything made with buckwheat flour, know that this grain has a strong and slightly nutty flavour. Consequently, Shochu Towari has a strong, nutty, somewhat sweetish aroma and taste. While potato or barley shochu is sometimes too delicate to keep up with very spicy or hot dishes, Shochu Towari can handle very strong ingredients and high levels of capsaicin. In spite of that, like all the shochu varieties I have experienced, this one has a sophisticated, smooth and clear taste, impressing especially when compared to all the stronger Western alcohols. Moreover, according to this website, soba shochu contains fibers that remove the bad cholesterol from the body, “making it extremely beneficial to human health”.
In short, buckwheat shochu is a nice change from more delicate varieties I have tasted until now, but if bought with the “honkaku 本格” (unique distillation) mention, it guarantees a good quality but distinctive taste. Even though different shochu cocktails recipes exist, a slice or two of lime, sparkling water and ice is the maximum alteration I can appreciate. Anything more and even this strong buckwheat shochu loses its straight and elegant flavour. My shochu adventures are still continued…