iichiko Kurobin Shochu

iichiko kurobin shochu

Well, this is a first! We have never tasted (or covered) a shōchū here at Simple Cocktails, and it’s fun to continue to explore the world of distilled spirits.

Shōchū is a Japanese spirit distilled from barley, rice, sweet potato or buckwheat. In the case of iichiko, it is distilled from 100% barley, y’know, the same stuff that scotch is distilled from? iichiko retails for $30 and is the best-selling shōchū in Japan. This particular type of iichiko is Kurobin, which means black bottle.

As with anything, it’s always helpful to be able to compare a new distilled spirit to something else, and the best comparison I can make for shōchū is genever, a Dutch spirit which is also sometimes distilled from barley. There are several ways that shōchū is served, including the tea I tried it in, neat or on the rocks. The flavor of shōchū is malty, light and fruity. I tasted it (as pictured above) in the following ratio:

  • 2 oz iichiko Kurobin shōchū
  • 4 oz boiling water
  • 1 tsp sugar (to flavor)

This produces a malty liquor tea with a flavor that’s vaguely reminiscent of a light-tasting high-malt beer. There is a clear asian flavor to shōchū, too, a light freshness that I can’t associate with any particular flavor, but it’s definitely unique and something worth trying.


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