Introducing the extremely rare Nakano Beninanko, this sweet shochu is made using beninanko ume, the highest quality brand of Japanese apricot. Brewed by the prestigious Nakano Brewery and located in the Wakayama prefecture, beninanko ume are only able to grow under the sun which contributes to its high scarcity value. Even more fascinating is the fact that as many as 1.5 times more beninanko ume are pickled compared to normal umeshu. The umeshu toji [master brewer] is in charge of the very intricate brewing process that requires the selected ume to be picked and pickled in the same day. Upon selection, the apricots are placed in a special container, designed to capture their fruity fragrance, and draw out their objectively ample sweetness and tartness. Swimming in accolades, the Nakano Beninanko Shochu has won gold three years in a row at the prestigious Monde Selection as well as taking home the first ever Grand Prix at the Tenman Tenjin Umeshu Festival.
The Nakano Brewery recommends their shochu be consumed on the rocks or at room temperature. While ume technically translates to plum in Japanese, it is incredibly misleading as they are more closely related to the aforementioned apricot. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I decided to try this particular brew at room temperature and was not disappointed. As soon as the shochu touched my lips, that signature umeshu taste immediately took over. Syrupy and thicker than most sake I have tried, my first thought was that this shochu would pair well with a dessert or as a dessert itself due to its luscious texture. Rich with caramel and apricot taste notes, the Nakano Beninanko is comparable to a Riesling wine as they both share noticeably intense aromas. The packaging on this brew is quite attractive as well, with a midnight black base complemented by stunning red Japanese kanji.
The Nakano Beninankoo shochu is appreciated by sake drinkers around the world, and due to its rare nature and intricate brewing process, this brew is truly a delicacy. If you are trying to broaden your sake horizons, make sure the exquisite Nakano Beninankoo shochu is at the top of your list!