As a distilled beverage found in Japan, shochu has become a rising star outside its native country. Sake is still more popular than shochu in North America, but many Americans are experiencing shochu for the first time — and it’s gaining in popularity.
Takara has been making shochu since 1864, and today, Takara is the number one shochu maker and seller in Japan. Takara Sake USA supplies shochu in America to wholesalers who want to offer it to their customers and patrons. If you are intrigued by the thought of adding an authentic Japanese drink to your table, please seek out your nearest retailer and request them to stock it for you. Our nationwide distributors are standing by. Alternatively, you may find shochu at your favorite Asian restaurant.
What Is Shochu?
Sake and shochu are both Japan’s national alcoholic beverages. Shochu in Japan is a traditional distilled liquor that dates back to the 15th century. Similar to sake, shochu uses koji mold for starchy ingredients to break down starch into glucose to ferment the mash into alcohol. This spirit mash that is produced through fermentation, are then distilled. Unlike sake, however, shochu can be made from a number of raw ingredients, such as: rice, barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat and brown sugar to name a few. In total, 55 raw and processed materials are permitted for creating shochu.
The alcohol content of typical shochu is around 25 percent. This makes shochu a lower alcohol alternative to liquors like vodka and gin, but a higher alcohol alternative to wine, sake or beer.
The characteristics of Honkaku Shochu include the following:
Uses locally-sourced ingredients, culture often result in a brew unique to particular region.
Often uses a single ingredient so that it retains the authentic flavors of that particular ingredient. At Takara Sake, we offer very rare 100% imo (sweet potato), 100% mugi (barley), 100% soba (buckwheat) and 100% kome (rice) shochu.
Must use koji (like sake) to convert the starch to glucose, then it’s fermented using yeast.
Undergoes multiple parallel fermentation process (like sake) in a fermentation mash.
Distilled only once, using a single distillation machine.
Single distillation process allows shochu to retain the authentic, pure, unique flavors and aromas of its original base ingredients.
The characteristics of Korui Shochu are:
Approved starchy ingredients or molasses are used and fermented using yeast.
Then, fermented mash goes through a multiple distillation process.
Art of blending can come to light with Korui Shochu. Some of the batch of the Korui Shochu even from different ingredients can be artfully blended to achieve a desired finish.
It has clean and refreshing taste, thanks to being multiply distilled. Economical and similar to vodka, and it is often used for cocktails.
Alcohol content can reach 96% by volume. We keep our Korui Shochu to 24%~35% in alcohol content.
Like all alcoholic beverages, each batch of shochu has its own personality and flavor. Above all else, Japanese shochu, especially honkaku shochu is known for having an intense flavor. For this reason, some shochu lovers prefer to add a splash of water, cold or warm, to the beverage to temper the taste and reduce the amount of alcohol they consume in each glass.
Common Ways to Enjoy Japanese Shochu
Neat: When you drink shochu without any additives, you are said to drink it "neat." A neat shochu can make a wonderful sipping beverage similar to brandy or whiskey.
On the rocks: Chilling shochu can slightly change the bite and finish. It can also provide a refreshing change from drinking shochu straight.
Warm: Meaning not making shochu hot like sake, but breaking with hot water. Shochu with hot water makes the drink milder and also increases the savory aspect of shochu. Each brand has unique recommendation for the serving styles. Typically sweet potato Shochu, Soba Shochu, and barley Shochu can be enjoyed in the variety style of serving. The best result is usually gained by pouring hot water first and Shochu next with a ratio of 6 parts hot water to 4 parts of Shochu, or 5:5.
Mixed with juice or tea: Some shochu drinkers prepare their glasses a little differently. They choose to complement the natural flavors of fermented sweet potatoes or barley with fruit juice or even teas. Again, this changes the overall tone, lightening the drink and making it feel a little more summery and less robust. There's nothing like a tasty shochu cocktail on a warm afternoon.
With soda: Looking for a carbonated beverage with a higher alcoholic content than you will traditionally find in a wine spritzer, wine cooler or light beer? Shochu can be mixed with soda or carbonated water and flavorings. Consider adding some lime or lemon to turn your shochu drink into a homemade version of Chu-Hi.
Takara Sake is a top shochu producer and offers plenty of shochu for sale to wholesalers who then get this amazing beverage to the public. If your favorite distributor or eatery does not carry shochu, please send them to our website so they can buy the best shochu for sale. We carry many varieties of shochu.