How many types of shochu are there?

Whether you're a seasoned spirit connoisseur or a curious traveler, shochu offers a unique and flavorful journey into Japanese culture.

Jun 27, 2024 - 17:28
Jun 13, 2024 - 14:34
How many types of shochu are there?

Japan is renowned for its rich culture, exquisite cuisine, and unique beverages. While sake often takes the spotlight, there's another traditional Japanese spirit worth exploring: shochu. 

This distilled beverage offers a distinct taste and cultural experience, making it a must-try for anyone interested in Japanese culture.

Shochu is a distilled spirit that originated in Japan and has been enjoyed for centuries. Unlike sake, which is brewed, shochu undergoes a distillation process similar to that of whiskey or vodka. Shochu can be made from a variety of base ingredients, including barley, sweet potatoes, rice, buckwheat, and even brown sugar. Each ingredient imparts a unique flavor profile to the final product.

Shochu is incredibly diverse, with its flavor and aroma greatly influenced by the base ingredient and the production method. Here are a few popular types of shochu:

  • Imo Shochu (Sweet Potato Shochu): Known for its bold and earthy flavors.
  • Mugi Shochu (Barley Shochu): Often milder and smoother, with a slightly nutty taste.
  • Kome Shochu (Rice Shochu): Light and clean, similar to sake but with a higher alcohol content.
  • Soba Shochu (Buckwheat Shochu): Unique and aromatic, with a nutty flavor.
  • Kokuto Shochu (Brown Sugar Shochu): Sweet and rich, made from brown sugar, primarily produced in the Amami Islands.

Shochu is versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways. Here are a few popular methods:

  • Neat or On the Rocks: To fully appreciate the unique flavors of shochu, try it neat or over ice.
  • Mizuwari: Diluting shochu with water, typically at a 6:4 or 7:3 ratio, enhances its subtle flavors.
  • Oyuwari: Adding hot water to shochu releases its aromatic qualities and creates a warm, soothing drink.
  • Cocktails: Shochu can also be used as a base spirit in cocktails, offering a Japanese twist to classic drinks.

Shochu holds a special place in Japanese culture, particularly in regions like Kyushu, where it is deeply rooted in local traditions. It is often enjoyed during social gatherings and celebrations, symbolizing hospitality and warmth. Learning about shochu and its cultural significance offers a deeper understanding of Japan's rich heritage.

To experience shochu firsthand, consider visiting Japan's various shochu distilleries, many of which offer tours and tastings. Additionally, Japanese izakayas (pubs) and restaurants often have a wide selection of shochu, allowing you to explore different varieties and find your favorite.

InJavi "InJavi" is a website that provides information for foreigners to enjoy life and visit in Japan more smoothly. This website is easy to use even for first-timers to Japan and those who are not very good at Japanese, and supports multiple languages. 「InJavi」は、外国人が日本の生活や観光をよりスムーズに楽しむための情報を提供するウェブサイトです。 初めて日本を訪れる方や日本語が苦手な方でも使いやすい、多言語対応サイトです。