Denen Shuzo distillery was established in 1979 in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima Prefecture. It specializes in ageing, which accounts for the vast majority of its production. Barley was the main raw material in the beginning, but sweet potato joined it in 2000, followed by rice.
This imo shochu (sweet potato shochu) is made from the Kogane Sengan variety. It is a white koji which ensures the first fermentation, on a base of rice. The secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 5 days. Classical music is played in the vats, so the vibrations allow a better activation of the yeasts. The distillation of this Honkaku Shochu is done naturally in one pass, in a traditional atmospheric still.
The ageing is done in re-burned whisky barrels during 3 years. Here too, classical music is played in the cellar, in order to obtain an optimal arrangement of the water and alcohol molecules. If for the appellation "aged shochu" it is necessary to have at least 50% of shochu older than 3 years in the blend, we have here 100% aged shochu.
Nico's tasting note
The nose proposes at once a very beautiful greediness, with sweetness, a promise of umami, but also some stimulating notes of citrus peels, as well as a light toasted side. Delicacy and subtlety are at the honor in this fruity and slightly patinated shochu.
With aeration, the sweetness of the sweet potato and the rice melt and put the raw material back in the center, before more fruity and exotic notes make the shochu take off again towards lighter skies.
The palate is very fluid and rather fresh, with rice that seems very lightly toasted. The steamed sweet potato is delicate but tasty, first offering its natural and earthy aromas, before opening up into fruity and floral notes. The exotic fruits then gently spread out, and we find a velvety mango, lychee, as well as a touch of maracuja.
The finish highlights the patina of this shochu, with a veil of elegant vanilla closing the step.
"Lots of delicacy for this barrel-aged shochu, which keeps the sweet potato character while seasoning it with the fruitier notes given by the yeasts..."