Japan is not a country that one normally associates with lichi. Or is it leechee? Perhaps litchi? Possibly lichee? Oh, what the hell, let’s go with “lychee.” These fleshy orbs encased in pericarps originated in southern China. Over the past 100 years they have found their way into a number of countries, including Jamaica, the United States and Mauritius. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the tree has attained commercial importance” in Florida, where it was introduced in 1916. But Japan, despite its proximity to China, appears to be lacking in things lychee. However, now there is a shochu of the highest caliber with the unmistakable fragrance and taste of this aromatic fruit sans lychee.
Hamada Syuzou, which was established in 1868, is a Kagoshima distillery that describes itself as innovative, and from what we have experienced with Daiyame, an imo (sweet potato) shochu, we have to concur that they certainly are. When we pulled the stopper on its bottle with the elegant black label, we were immediately enticed by the fragrance of lychee and assumed, mistakenly as it turned out, that this was the result of the activities of some kind of designer yeast. On the contrary, the flavor profile arises from their treatment of the sweet potatoes. Don’t ask us how. We have no idea, but someday we intend to find out.
For a sweet-potato shochu, the body is relatively light. The lychee notes slightly dominate the sweet potato characteristics. The flavors are not integrated. They remain distinct on the palate, but they complement each other in a dance of fruit and vegetable, each displaying its prowess, with the former being more puissant. Daiyama is 25 ͦ.
We highly recommend this entirely different and pleasant award-winning shochu and encourage our readers, many of whom are outside Japan, to visit their multilingual website: https://www.hamadasyuzou.co.jp/zhcn .
Recommendation level (out of five stars):
We have written a book. For more information on Japanese beverages, please check it out. You can get it at fine offline and online booksellers in Japan, including Amazon.
#drinkingjapan #drinkjapan #imoshochu #daiyame