The popular shochu at Japanese Cuisine Yamazato is Satsuma shochu, Kagoshima's sweet potato shochu. Satsuma is the old name for Kagoshima.
Oyuwari (with hot water), is the best way to enjoy the aroma, the most prominent feature of sweet potato shochu. In Kagoshima, you first pour the hot water, then gently add shochu.
A convection is created this way, naturally blending the shochu and hot water. In Kagoshima, maewari has been a favored way to drink shochu from the old days. The shochu is pre-diluted with water, and left for a few days.
This is a good way to adjust the alcohol content of shochu, which ranges from 20 to 40 degrees, to the level you like. It also makes the taste mellower.
The evening drink is called "dareyame" or "daiyami" in Kagoshima, meaning "get rid of fatigue." Sitting around an oyuwri-filled kurojoka, a pot for serving shochu, and getting refreshed with close friends, is the Kagoshima-style dareyame.
Yamazato's recommended sweet potato Honkaku Shochu is Nanako. The ultimate shochu, hand-made by the old method, using organically grown sweet potatoes and rice, and spring water rich in minerals. The beautiful bottle featuring ancient Japanese color is also very popular.
Japanese Cuisine Yamazato
Sommelier, Masao Okada