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Higher-abv Iichiko Saiten for bartenders lands in the US

Japanese shochu brand Iichiko is targeting bartenders with the launch of a higher-abv expression in the US, which has been “optimised” for cocktails.

Iichiko Saiten is bottled at a higher abv of 43% compared to traditional shochus which are usually 25% abv

The new expression, called Iichiko Saiten, is produced on Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island.

Produced by Japan’s Sanwa Shurui Company, the new shochu has been created with insights from leading US bartenders.

Bottled at a higher strength of 43% abv, Iichiko Saiten is described as “rich in flavour” and with an “umami character”.

Shochu is usually bottled at 25% abv and distilled from barley, sweet potatoes, rice or buckwheat. According to the brand, the lower proof is “challenging” for bartenders.

“We have created Iichiko Saiten as a new kind of shochu specifically for mixology,” said Masahiko Shimoda, president of Sanwa Shurui.

“Our goal is to make shochu a clear spirit that is celebrated around the world, on par with the best gins, vodkas, Tequilas, rums, piscos and mezcals.

“Saiten brings a toasty and flavourful barley character that is truly unique and stands out in any cocktail. Moreover, we craft Saiten in keeping with Iichiko’s highest quality standards for which we are renowned.”

The expression will launch in New York, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, Nevada and Washington DC in early 2019. Iichiko Saitan has an RRP of US$29.99 and will be available in cocktail bars and restaurants, as well as independent spirits retailers. Davos Brands is the importer for Iichiko Saiten in the US.

Andrew Chrisomalis, CEO and co-founder, Davos Brands, added: “At 43% abv, Iichiko Saiten is a game-changer. Japan has produced shochu for more than five hundred years, but from a mixological standpoint, this is day one, a remarkable watershed event.

“The cocktail possibilities for Iichiko Saiten are limitless and we look forward to unlocking the creativity of the US craft bartending community to harness its vast potential.”

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