When visitors ask me what shochu is, I usually tell them it's Japanese whiskey. There are a few different tastes when it comes to shochu. The taste depends on the ingredient used in distillation. The common ones are sweet potatoes, brown (black) sugar, barley and rice. You can easily tell where a particular shochu was made just from the ingredient used in distilling it.
Used in a blog at www.kenleewrites.com/2010/05/drinking-shochu.html.