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

Ingredient: Rice
Japan's staple food

Production Area
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.

Character
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

Ingredient
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.

Production Area
All over Kyushu, in particular Iki-no Shima in Nagasaki Prefecture and Oita Prefecture.

Character
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)

Character
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

Ingredients
Indica rice and local Okinawan black koji

Production Area
Okinawa Prefecture

Character
The single distillation method ensures Awamori's unique taste. Vintage aged Awamori known as Kusu has a particularly richly ripe flavour.

Others

Kokuto (Black Sugar) Honkaku Shochu

Ingredient
Black sugar from sugar cane

Production Area
Amami Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture

Character
The sweet and light taste derived from the black sugar is unique. This has a fresh and smooth flavour.

Soba (Buckwheat) Honkaku Shochu

Ingredient
Buckwheat soba

Production Area
Miyazaki Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture, etc.

Character
The characteristic aroma and subtle sweetness of soba give this Shochu a palatable and fresh taste.

Sakekasu (Sake Lees) Honkaku Shochu

Ingredient
sake lees

Production Area
All over Japan, especially Fukuoka and Oita Prefectures

Character
Rich and mellow flavour. Production in steaming vessels imparts at distinct sweet taste.