Okinawa has a rich drinking history, which is represented by awamori, the region’s national spirit. The older cousin of shochu, awamori stands out as its own category and has some of the most unique flavour profiles to be found anywhere in the world.
Awamori is undoubtedly one of my favourite spirits, so it’s even more thrilling to come across a type that breaks the traditional mould and does its own thing. I’m talking about Udisan No Sake Awamori, a delicious floral concoction that conjures images of clear skies and tropical beaches.
Udisan is produced by the Miyanohana Brewery, which is located on Irabu Island, a landmass that’s roughly 300 km southwest of the main island of Okinawa. Founded in 1948, the brewery was named after a flower of Miyako that was meant to represent the beauty of the island. The brewery is special in the fact that over 80% of the workforce are women. In an industry that’s typically a sausage fest, it’s great to see the ladies being able to leave their own mark and produce an awamori that’s truly unique.
The name ‘Udisan’ is a Ryukyu word that translates to joy in English and that’s really the perfect way to sum up every aspect of the drink. The bottle is beautiful, a bright, luminous blue that’s meant to represent a summer sky over Okinawa.
Another awesome aspect of this awamori is in the way it’s produced. Awamori is usually made with Indica Thai rice, but Miyanohana decided to throw caution to the wind and do something different. Instead, the brewery uses domestic Hinohikari rice that is cultivated in Kumamoto without the use of fertilisers or pesticides. The rice is delivered fresh and has an important effect on the overall taste of Udisan.
The Udisan has a striking smell, yeasty and rich. It’s like breathing in the scent of freshly baked bread. Fucking amazing. The richness carries on through the mouth, with notes of oak, strawberry yoghurt, rice and toasted rye bread standing out.
The strong umami flavours are balanced by a sweetness that appears at the back of the mouth. A bit of bubblegum mixed with liquorice mixed with apple pie. A lovely surprise that reflects the complexity of this awesome awamori.
The drink also has excellent versatility and can be enjoyed straight or mixed with water. On my second glass I used the mizuwari style and found that the water muted some of the punchier flavours.
I’d highly recommend Udisan No Sake for its velvety texture, long finish and overall lightness. It’s a brilliant introductory awamori and proves that stepping outside the rules of awamori production can create something special.
Get yourself a bottle today and step into the wonderful world of awamori.