For most, alcoholic beverages do not taste good initially. Dilution via sweet juices or sugary sodas is typically the gateway to imbibing the various hard liquors in their pure form, and “the sweeter the better” is generally a successful tack for introducing virgin taste buds to anything usually served straight (e.g. wine and beer). After all, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down….” Getting used to and learning to enjoy the acquired taste of any unadulterated libation takes some degree of either social pressure or mental fortitude. After acclimation, however, drinkers often face a wall: what should I drink next? It’s a HUGE wall. There are so many varieties of everything, that the sheer choice of moving into the unknown becomes intimidating; drinking is a not cheap after all, and imported alcohol is even more of a gamble.
That’s why I’ve started up this section for reviews of the various Japanese alcohols – sake primarily but also whisky, awamori, shochu, etc. – in which I indulge or sample. Tasting notes are plentiful on the good ol’ Internet, but one thing I’ve noticed over the stretch of my much-too-extended history of liquor store clerking is that palates that agree on one bottle will agree on many others, while tongues that disagree on a shared sip will never be best buds. So if you find something you like here, check back and seek out/buy with a fair degree of certainty. If you find something you dislike, come back to see what to avoid. I’m no sommelier, but I am a fairly seasoned drinker, have a fairly decent palate and vocabulary, and love to drink for taste as opposed to effect.