Why Choose Shochu?
I got a couple of sample bottles of Haamonii Shochu earlier this summer… and I am remiss in not yet posting about it. (Been traveling, been incredibly busy, sometimes things I love even take a little while to circle back to…)
But, let’s start at the beginning… What is shochu?
“Shochu” is a distilled Asian spirit. I have been acquainted with “soju” - Typically a distilled Korean spirit - for a while now. Soju is sometimes classified as a kind of wine, allowing restaurants with only a beer / wine license replace vodka with soju in cocktails. (Similarly, some restaurants make “agave wine” margaritas, when they don’t have a license for spirits… and they taste pretty good!)
But I digress…
I had understood “shochu” to be Japanese “soju” but wasn’t entirely sure if there was a difference. Turns out that Japan has started calling some of its shochu “soju” so that it could be recognizably exported to the U.S.. Shochu and soju can be made from sweet potato, barley, grain and rice. Haamonii Shochu declares itself “a grain based ultra premium spirit” and I don’t argue with that definition.
How does it compare with vodka?
To me, plain Haamonii Shochu is similar to vodka, only a bit sweeter. I find it incredibly silky on the tongue with very little alcohol “burn.” The lemon-flavored Hammonii is a pleasant surprise. The smell and taste are of fresh lemon (though both are surely artificial). I plan to create a cocktail combining muddled lychee, mandarin juice and a splash of lime for my next 'sushi night.'
I’m a big fan of the Asian influence on our cocktails in the U.S., Europe and Australia. In my travels, I have seen more ginger, lemongrass and the like making their way onto worldwide cocktail menus, for a while now. I use all sorts of exotic ingredients in The Liquid Muse Mixology, and I look forward to incorporating Shochu into the mix!