This is the fourth installment in our JFEX2022 series. This week we feature a shochu from a distillery in Akune City, Kagoshima—Oishi Shuzo Distillery (大石酒造).
Some of our readers may be familiar with The New York Times bestseller Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered1; others may have delved into The Breakdown of Nations2 and have come to appreciate the empowerment that small political units offer—local control! All of us respect staying power: the ability of an enterprise to survive in bad times, as well as good, indicates that the owners and workers can persevere and in the face of adversity are still able to deliver a fine product. A few of us, this writer included, sing the praises of wood, loud and clear: “…wood infuses some of our best-loved foods through its smoke, sap, roots, and bark.”3 If any or all of the above applies to you, Oishi Shuzo’s selection of shochu should prove quite appealing.
The distillery is small and family-run, with a history dating back to 1899. Its Kashi (樫), a barley shochu, has ample wood exposure. It is made with white koji, has an ABV of 35%, and an extremely complex flavor profile. The production process makes use of three types of barrels: “white oak barrels, cognac barrels, and sherry barrels.” The promootional literature for Kashi describes it as being “amber-colored.” This is an artisanal beverage, to be sure, but the other Oishi beverages that we tasted were just as finely crafted. Yes, small is beautiful and wood is wonderful and Oishi (big stone) is ooishii (delicious)!
1Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher (Harper Perennial, Reprint edition, 2010).
2The Breakdown of Nations by Leopold Kohr (Green Books, 2001).
3The Flavor of Wood: In Search of the Wild Taste of Trees from Smoke and Sap to Root and Bark by Artur Cisar-Erlach (Abrams Press, 2019).