Japan is known for having a unique drinking culture, best represented by sake/nihonshu in the west. But to leave out Japan’s national spirit, shochu, would be a massive disservice to the distillers who work tirelessly to produce one of the most versatile drinks in the world.
Education about shochu and its older cousin awamori is still lacking in western culture. But to help people learn more about it, Yamato Magazine has provided a glossary of essential shochu terms.
The Kokoro Files shares the stories of people and their connection to Japan, and this edition is particularly exciting for me because I had the opportunity to chat with one of the world’s leading authorities on shochu, Chris Pellegrini. A Japanese spirit evangelist, Chris is passionate about spreading the gospel of shochu and awamori. He definitely made a convert out of me!
From talking shochu 101, to clearing up the differences between shochu and Korean soju, we cover a lot of ground in this interview. Read on to discover the exciting world of Japan’s indigenous spirit. Who knows? By the time you’ve finished reading you might be ready to jump down the rabbit hole.
Experiencing a new culture through the lens of food and drink is a great way to connect to a different part of the world without having to hop on a plane. If you ever plan to travel to Okinawa, it’s worth knowing about the island’s indigenous spirit awamori and its importance to local history.
Japanese spirits like awamori have some of the most unique brewing methods and flavours profiles to be found anywhere on the planet. Awamori comes from Okinawa and packs more of a punch than nihonshu and shochu with an ABV that ranges from between 30% – 43%.
Japanese sake is experiencing a renaissance in the west. More information is available for demystifying Japan’s national alcohol, while sake-related organisations, breweries and sommeliers are breaking down misconceptions about nihonshu and experimenting with a variety of amazing flavours.
It’s an exciting time for the sake industry in the UK. A steady surge in popularity has led to consumers seeking more information about Japan’s national alcohol and one of the best places to start your journey into the realm of nihonshu is in the UK’s first sake brewery, Kanpai. Located in Peckham, Kanpai Brewery is the definition of a hidden gem.
Awamori is one of the most unique Japanese beverages in the world. Made in Okinawa, awamori shares similarities with nihonshu and shochu, but it only uses black koji mould and Thai indica rice in the production process. The result is a powerful distilled spirit that can go as high as a 43% ABV.