What is Shochu

What are Shochu and Awamori?
An Introduction to Honkaku Shochu and Awamori?

Drink it how you like, with any meal you like. That's why so many people, men and women,young and old, choose shochu. This chapter provides a good introduction to the characteristics of Honkaku Shochu and Awamori.

Like whiskey, brandy and vodka, Japanese Shochu is a distilled spirit.

In particular, Honkaku Shochu and Awamori are made from grains and tubers, mainly sweet potato varieties and potatoes, grown in Japan's rich and varied climate, carefully fermented by koji (fermenting agent) and distilled in Japan. They have earned the appellation “KOKUSHU”: national alcoholic spirit because they embody the essence of Japan.

Their distinctive deliciousness ensures their enduring popularity in Japan.

It is said that alcoholic spirits were first distilled by ancient Arabic alchemists in their search for the spirit of eternal youth.

When the skills of distillation then spread all over the world, regional spirits such as whiskey, brandy, rum, vodka and SHOCHU were born. The term ‘alembic’, which refers to the distillation process they all share, harks back to those early Arabic alchemists.

Shochu's origins are unclear, though it is probable that the distillation skills started in Persia had spread via Asia, and arrived in Japan the 15th century at the latest, where the distillation of this unique clear liquor was adapted using local creative techniques.

The Chinese characters for Shochu literally mean “burnt liquor”. This word first appeared in Japanese documents around 500 years ago.

Long before the arrival of the alembic distillation process in Japan, the Japanese were brewing Sake, which was the nation's major alcoholic beverage. This is made from rice saccharified by koji and fermented using yeast.

Honkaku Shochu is in legal terms a “single distilled Shochu”. It is produced in a “single distillation still” from the moromi broth made in Sake production.

This classic traditional single distillation method ensures rich authentic and natural flavours are preserved.

Japanese Alcoholic Beverages (and Related Products)

Category Example
Brewed Japanese Sake , Beer , wine
Distilled Honkaku Shochu , Awamori , Whiskey , Brandy , Vodka , Gin , Rum
Mixed Liquors , Mirin

Alcoholic beverages (and related products) can be roughly categorised into three groups: brewed, distilled and mixed. Honkaku Shochu and Awamori are distilled alcohol beverages.

Alternatively, distilled alcohol beverages can be categorised by ingredients as follows

Material Example
Fruit Brandy(Cognac , Marc) , Grappa , etc
Grain Honkaku Shochu , Awamori , Whiskey , Gin , Vodka , etc
Sugar Cane Kokuto Shochu , Rum , etc
Others Akvavit , Tequila , other spirits