July 13, 2011

Shochu Stop: Toyonaga (Short Rice)

by Washi Washino

toyonaga 1

I’m ashamed to say that I had not tried kome (short rice) shochu so often in Japan because I didn’t have many occasions to try it. Truthfully, I did not care for it much anyway, since I was most into imo (sweet potato) shochu. So I’m still a kome shochu novice. I want to introduce Toyonaga to you in this post for kome shochu beginners like me.

First, let me tell you about kome shochu. It is said that kome shochu is the origin of shochu. The taste is round, expressing many layers of flavors, notably the aroma of grains. The ingredient is same as sake, but sake is sweeter and melts in the mouth more, while kome shochu is crisp. Kome shochu is generally good with gamey meats and rich, buttery foods. Kome shochu from the Kumamoto prefecture is the most well-known in Japan. In Kumamoto, kome shochu is often paired with horse sashimi, which the region is also known for.

Yes, Japanese people eat horse sashimi.

Variation: Kome (short rice)
ABV: 25%
Origin: Kumamoto
Distiller: Toyonaga Shuzo (1894)
Washi’s Tip: This shochu is best served on the rocks.

Toyonaga is clean, airy, and soft. It is good for kome shochu beginners, because it does not taste overwhelming, the way imo shochu can be, and is quite mild. You get a hint of sweetness of the rice and when served on the rocks, you will notice a crisp finish.

My exploration of kome shochu starts now. Please join me, and enjoy it!

toyonaga and me 1

Shochu doesn’t cheat you. Shochu always stands by you. Take your shochu time.


  • yoko
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    You mention that kome shochu goes well with buttery foods. Do you think that kome shochu would go well with buttery western foods? For example, do you think it would pair well with buttery potatoes or herb-roasted chicken?

  • seri
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    mmm… basashi…

    Where do you usually get your shochu?

  • Washi
    Posted July 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Yoko – Yeah, those foods pair well.Cheese, sauteed foods and carpaccio are also good.

    Seri – I get shochu at Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley, but they don’t have a great collection. They only have a standard selection, it’s OK though. It’s still hard to get great shochu in U.S. We can drink good shochu at my workplace, haha.

  • yuji
    Posted July 15, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Washi – nice essay. you made me drink toyonaga, cuz i dont think i tried this before.

  • Washi
    Posted July 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Hey Yuji! Thanks.
    Take your shochu time.

  • LaMonte Heflick
    Posted August 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    I am a Jihn Gauntner ASP Advanced Sake Professiona (Sake Education Council), but I have also sampled 26 shochu. Takehara しろ kome shochu is very good. I enjoy imo, mugi, soba, seasame, kyokuro (green tea), raw sugar, as well as, rice (kome) shochu. I just received a bottle of Toyonaga and will try it this evening. 乾杯. LaMonte

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