It’s time for another edition of The Pop Culture Pub Crawl, which delves into the favourite tipple of fictional characters. The drinker of the day is Itsano from Tales Of The Frontier. A kamuni battle conductor and wandering healer, Itsano is a voice of his people and a musical warrior.
Itsano’s drinking tastes have a distinctive Asian flair. Read on to discover what kind of spirits and booze fall into this category.
Ichishima honjozo sake
Itsano would have a great love for Japanese sake because it would remind him of tinek, the spiritual drink of his people. He’d start off with a rich type of sake like Ichishima Tokubetsu honjozo sake that has a colourful bouquet of spices, nuts and dryness. A true sake of the earth and nature.
This sake is produced by Ichishima Shuzo of Niigata Prefecture, a region famous for its tanrei karakuchi (dry and crisp) style of sake. Ichishima has been producing sake since 1790 and Itsano would be respectful of the great tradition of the brewery.
Silent Forest junmai daiginjo sake
A connection to nature is of the utmost importance to the kamuni. It’s part of their culture and a way of life to see and worship daiku (spirits) in every living thing and Itsano holds these values to a high standard. He’s spent long periods of his life in woodlands and forests and a sake to remind him of this choice is Silent Forest.
Fruity, rich and herbal, this junmai daiginjo sake has notes of melon, apricot and honey rolled into one. It’s sake Itsano would drink while contemplating the transience of life with a friend like Clay McNab as they insulted each other like an old married couple.
Kanbara Ancient Treasure koshu sake
Itsano would also be a fan of koshu (aged) sake for its complex flavours. An ideal choice is Kanbara ancient treasure from the Kaetsu brewery of Niigata Prefecture.
Aged for 12 years, this sake has a beautiful golden colour and notes of olive, honey and caramel. It also packs a punch by being a genshu (undiluted) drink.
After drinking a lot of sake, Itsano would want to clear his palate and a dry gin like Kuro would do the trick. This gin has botanicals of bamboo, silver birch and spruce, all ingredients that are native to the kamuni homeland of Suwanichi.
Itsano wasn’t born in Suwanichi, but drinking the gin would have a certain impact on him. At an instinctive level it could conjure the place of his ancestors and make him feel reflective.
Fok Hing gin
Another Asian-inspired gin Itsano would sip is Fok Hing gin. Taking inspiration from Hong Kong, this gin has botanicals sourced from China and is distilled in the UK.
This story of two cultures meeting would resonate with Itsano, as he’s spent his life dealing with the frontiersmen. As a young man, Itsano had fire in his belly and fought against them. As an older man, Itsano has a wiser perspective, choosing to live in harmony with others when possible.
Ikkokumono 10-year shochu
The next drink on Itsano’s radar would be Japanese shochu. This spirit has similar characteristics to kamuni burash and the wealth of styles is something he’d dive straight into.
A type that would catch his eye is the Ikkokumono 10-year. Moreish, mellow and smooth, this shochu would be washed down quickly.
Smoke shochu Number 59
Switching to a more savoury style of drink, Itsano would enjoy smoke shochu number 59 from Hombo Shuzo. A sweet potato shochu, number 59 lives up to its name with earthy, primal notes of tobacco, wood, lapsang and roasted rice.
Umi-no-kuni 15-year awamori
There would come a certain time in his drinking spree where Itsano would be inclined to bring out his rotiro, the instrument of battle conductors, and play a joyful ditty. He’d be in the mood to celebrate and alcohol to push him to that point is umi-no-kuni 15-year awamori.
The indigenous spirit of Okinawa, awamori has the kind of strength and character kamuni battle conductors live for. Especially when they’ve been aged for a decade and a half!
To cap everything off, Itsano would switch to an earthy rum like Issan. A Thai rum with grassy and herbal qualities, Issan would bring him close to nature. Notes of vanilla, toffee, black fruit and honey blossoms would be enough to send Itsano into a deep slumber.
Find out more about Itsano’s journey in AT THE DEAD OF DUSK, where he stands alongside his daughter Kozuni and Clay McNab in a monstrous misadventure. Buy the novella today!