A Japanese classic takes on a new form.
Looking at the label, you could never tell that this spirit was at one point a beer. Nor could you tell that it is from renowned Japanese brewery, Hitachino Nest. It is, however, very obvious that there are some beer characteristics with the addition of hops to go along with orange peel and coriander. The latter two, being very common ingredients in white ale, starts to clear things up and brings to light the fact that this is actually a distilled version of the classic Hitachino Nest White Ale.
Translating to “first drip from the distillation kettle,” No Shizuku is an offering from Hitachino Nest’s more recently formed distillery. The brewery itself started in 1996, as the newfound focus for the Kiuchi Brewery which was established back in 1823. Prior to this change in focus, Kiuchi was all about making sake. In 2003, distilling came back into the picture and they once again began making sakes and other spirits, including this No Shizuku offering, which combines their efforts from both endeavors.
In making No Shizuku, Hitachino Nest White Ale is taken to the distillery and distilled until it reaches an alcohol content by volume of 30%. On its own, the white ale comes in at an ABV of 5%, making this a drastically stronger version and a unique choice for distilling. Most other distilled beers tend to be those already coming in with higher alcohol contents. Upon reaching its 30% ABV, the beer is then aged in oak barrels for one month, along with the addition of the hops, orange peel and coriander. The resulting liquid is then combined with more white ale and once again distilled; this time bringing it to an ABV of 50%. Following six more months of maturation in oak barrels, the spirit is filtered and ready for consumption.
A bit intense and boozy on its own, but the reminiscent flavors of the white ale definitely linger within. Ideal to sip on or blend into creative cocktails, but perfect to pair with a Hitachino Nest White Ale and explore the complexities and nuances that have remained the same as well as evolved from its original form.