The Wide Variety
Honkaku Shochu and Awamori Differ Greatly According to Their Ingredients
Most distilled spirits are associated with a specific ingredient: Scotch whiskey and barley, brandy and grapes, vodka and potatoes. But with Shochu, the same distilling process is applied to a variety of raw ingredients, producing a wide range of tastes and flavors.
The flavour of Honkaku Shochu is derived from its ingredients. The following section outlines the major ingredients, characteristics and regional characteristics of Honkaku Shochu.
Kome (Rice) Honkaku Shochu
Japan's staple food
The “Kuma Shochu” of Hitoyoshi Plateau (Kuma Area) in Kumamoto Prefecture is a typical kome (rice) Shochu, though it is also produced in other rice producing areas in Japan.
Its flavour is mellow. However, responding to the recent shift in taste trends towards “soft and light” flavours, lighter flavoured products are now gain popularity.
Mugi (Barley) Honkaku Shochu
Mugi Honkaku Shochu is made from barley, which has been closely linked to the history of mankind, and has served a major role in the production of alcoholic beverage all over the world, including beer.
All over Kyushu, in particular Iki-no Shima in Nagasaki Prefecture and Oita Prefecture.
In general it is milder and easier to drink than Kome Shochu. Its fresh aroma and mild, light and vibrant taste has contributed to its increasing popularity among Shochu lovers.
Imo (Sweet potato) Honkaku Shochu
Main ingredient: sweet potato
About 40 varieties such as Beni-Azuma, Beni-Satsuma, Joy-White are used, but Kogane-Sengan, which is high in starch, is the predominant variety used.
The Joy-White variety has white skin and flesh, and lacks any aroma of potato. It has been developed especially for producing thin and sharp tasting Shochu.
Production Area: Kagoshima Prefecture, Miyazaki Prefecture, Izu islands (part of the Tokyo Metropolis)
a rich aroma of steamed sweet potato. The soft and sweet taste of sweet potato remains even when served diluted with hot or cold water.
Awamori - Okinawa Speciality
Indica rice and local Okinawan black koji
The single distillation method ensures Awamori's unique taste. Vintage aged Awamori known as Kusu has a particularly richly ripe flavour.
Kokuto (Black Sugar) Honkaku Shochu
Black sugar from sugar cane
Amami Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture
The sweet and light taste derived from the black sugar is unique. This has a fresh and smooth flavour.
Soba (Buckwheat) Honkaku Shochu
Miyazaki Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture, etc.
The characteristic aroma and subtle sweetness of soba give this Shochu a palatable and fresh taste.
Sakekasu (Sake Lees) Honkaku Shochu
All over Japan, especially Fukuoka and Oita Prefectures
Rich and mellow flavour. Production in steaming vessels imparts at distinct sweet taste.