10 Best Japanese Shochu
Perfect Guide to Japanese Shochu Drinks
Have you ever tried drinking Japanese Shochu? Shochu is a traditional distilled Japanese alcoholic beverage.
When thinking about Japanese traditional alcoholic beverages, most foreign visitors will immediately think about Japanese Sake; However, when it comes to the locals, Shochu is as popular and consumed as Sake is.
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In this article, I will explain some basic facts about shochu as well as introduce to you 10 of the most popular shochu brands that you can purchase online.
If you’re an alcoholic drink enthusiast, I hope this article sparks an interest in you.
What is Shochu?
First, let me explain what Japanese Shochu is. As I briefly mentioned in the intro, Shochu (焼酎) is a traditional Japanese liquor. It is usually made from either barley, rice, sweet potato, or sugar cane.
The main difference between Shochu and Sake is the preparation process. Shochu is a distilled liquor. This means that there is further processing after the fermentation process, and because of this, it tends to have a higher alcohol-by-volume compared to undistilled beverages. It also has fewer calories compared to undistilled liquors. For reference, other distilled liquors include whisky, gin, rum, tequila, and vodka. On the other hand, Sake is an undistilled liquor such as beer and wine.
Its history is not completely clear; however, it is believed that the origins of shochu came from the middle east through Thailand. It entered Okinawa and it was first named shochu sometime around the 16th century in Kagoshima prefecture. From there, it expanded throughout the whole country.
How to drink Shochu?
One of the attractive things about shochu is that you can drink it in many different ways. In other words, there are many ways you can enjoy it.
If you like strong drinks, then you can drink shochu straight. If you think it is too strong for you, you can drink it on the rocks, dilute it with cold or warm water, or you can mix it with other drinks. If you mix Shochu with Japanese tea, you get “Ryokucha wari”, if you mix it with soda, you’ll get “Chuhai”. Some people like putting an umeboshi (dried plum) into the drink to add sourness. There are also people who like mixing it with coffee.
Ok, now that you know the basics of shochu, let me introduce to you 10 of the most popular shochu brands. If you’re interested, you can get these brands online!
Kurokirishima (黒霧島) is a shochu made from sweet potatoes and rice malt. This shochu is made by the brewer Kirishimashuzo which is located in Miyazaki prefecture.
The sweet potatoes used as ingredients are grown locally in the Kyushu area. It has a sweetness that doesn’t linger in your mouth. This brand also has a shochu called “Akakirishima” which is a little more expensive.
Iichiko (いいちこ), also known as “the Napoleon of downtown”, is one of the most known brands of shochu in Japan. It is produced in Oita prefecture and its main ingredients are barley and barley malt.
Iichiko has a relatively mild texture and it is easy to drink. Therefore many say this is a good entry-level shochu for those who are trying it for the first time.
Maou (魔王) is a shochu created in Kagoshima prefecture by the brewery Shiratama Juzo.
The name Maou means “Devil”, so you might imagine a strong taste; however, it is actually the contrary. This Shochu was created in the hopes to gather new people to start enjoying the taste of shochu, therefore it was created to have a mild taste with a soft texture.