Does shochu taste like vodka?

Answered by Ricardo McCardle

I have had the opportunity to taste shōchū on several occasions, and I must say that it is indeed a unique and distinct spirit. While it is true that shōchū shares some similarities with vodka, it is not entirely accurate to say that they taste the same.

When I first tried shōchū, I noticed that it had a clean and crisp taste, much like vodka. However, there was also a hint of complexity and depth that I didn’t find in vodka. It had a slightly earthy and nutty flavor, which I later learned was due to the fermentation process and the base ingredient used to make it.

Shōchū can be made from various ingredients such as rice, barley, sweet potato, and even buckwheat. Each base ingredient imparts its own unique characteristics to the final product. For example, rice shōchū tends to have a delicate and smooth flavor, while barley shōchū can be slightly more robust and grainy.

I remember trying a sweet potato shōchū, and it had a distinct sweetness to it. It almost reminded me of a whiskey, with its rich and caramel-like flavors. The sweet potato shōchū had a depth and complexity that I had not experienced before in other spirits.

Another factor that can influence the taste of shōchū is the number of times it has been distilled. Similar to whiskey, shōchū can be single distilled or multiple distilled. The number of distillations can impact the overall flavor profile, with multiple distillations resulting in a smoother and more refined taste.

To summarize, while shōchū does share some similarities with vodka in terms of its clean and crisp taste, it also offers a range of unique flavors and complexities. The base ingredient used and the number of distillations can greatly influence its taste, resulting in a spirit that can be likened to a cross between vodka and whiskey, but with its own distinct character.