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Mellowed Kozuru Excellence Rice Shochu | 小正醸造 メローコヅル・エクセレンス 焼酎


Mellowed Kozuru is probably more well known today for being used for Kanosuke Distillery's cask aging, which is one of the fast rising Japanese craft distiller's core maturation cask type.

It is of course also the genesis of Kanosuke Distillery, having been pioneered as the first long aged barrel shochu to be introduced in Japan in the 1950s by Kanosuke Komasa, whom Kanosuke Distillery is named after by his grandson Yoshitsugu Komasa who founded the distillery.

Although shochu has been a traditional Japanese spirit for centuries, being a really all encompassing type of spirit that can be made using over 50 different types of base ingredients to make various styles of Shochu, it was often considered to be rather harsh and simple in flavour. What Kanosuke Komasa did was to age the family's rice Shochu (known as Kome Shochu) in oak barrels for several years (~ 3 to 6 years) to allow its flavours to mellow out and deepen, rounding out any harshness, whilst at the same time developing more nuanced flavours.

And thus the success of the Mellowed Kozuru shochu was really what underpinned the Komasa family's business at the time.



However, the stark reality today is also that in the past decades shochu's popularity has declined, which was exactly what prompted fourth generation Komasa leader, Yoshitsugu to move the family's business in the direction of whiskies with the establishment of Kanosuke Distillery, which has indeed done tremendously well. The hope with Kanosuke was that it would put the family's business on the world stage and be a foot in the door for increasing international interest in shochu as well.

And to that end, no tasting of Kanosuke whiskies can be complete without going back to Komasa Jyozo's Mellowed Kozuru shochu.

Today we've got the Mellowed Kozuru Excellence which is by category a Honkaku Shochu, made with only rice, koji and water by definition, which is then distilled thrice (more than the conventional standard) and then subsequently aged between 4 - 6 years in oak casks. It is bottled at a whopping 41% ABV, which puts it on par with most whiskies.

Let's go!

Mellowed Kozuru Excellence Rice (Kome) Shochu | 小正醸造 メローコヅル·エクセレンス  焼酎 - Review / レビュー


Tasting Notes

Color: Light White Wine

Aroma: Really vibrant aromas - honey, freshly baked bread, heaps of vanilla, cooked barley, with a hint of lychee. It comes across incredibly mellow and with solid depth, almost reminiscent of a sweet Sauterne white wine, with even a hint of coastal chalkiness and minerality. 

Taste: More of that bright vibrance of sweet honey, vanilla cream, maltose rock candy crystals, white florals, topped with pepper, clove, anise spices. This is all over a really creamy texture, with more on sweet Sauternes, elderflowers and a little bit of lychee.

Finish: Surprisingly clean and crisp with more elderflower, vanilla cream and honey - almost a perfumed sweetness. It’s alittle reminiscent of Sake here.


My Thoughts

Colour me (pleasantly) surprised! I found the Mellowed Kozuru really fantastic! It was incredibly vibrant and flavor forward but at the same time mellow and rounded, with a great flavour palette of florals and honey. This would be comparable to a hybrid of a sweet Sauternes white wine meeting a slightly dry Sake, moving from one profile to the latter. It’s got a really delightful creamy texture, depth and richness too - bright flavours surrounded by spices over an almost syrupy texture. It really striked me as elegant.

The cask aging really did a great job of mellowing it out - and to that end, I couldn’t tease out any sense of the cask. There was no tannins or oakiness to be had, which I found really interesting as well. It’s as if the aging took place sans the woodiness of the cask.

This was really approachable and friendly, very enjoyable to drink and definitely a stunner, quite unlike any other Shochu I’ve had in terms of depth, elegance and complexity.

Top tier stuff!

My Rating: 9/10


Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.