These In Demand Japanese Spirits Surpass Sake in Japan
Although Sake is quite popular outside of Japan, Shochu is the more widely consumed drink. Shochu is a native spirit of Japan that has been around for centuries. Although the main ingredients are made from sweet potato, barley, and rice there are many other ways to make the spirit. Koji, a yeast that is used in making Sake, responsible for miso and soy sauce, and is also commonly used to ferment Shochu’s ingredients. It is the secret behind Shochu as it adds a touch of umami, which can lend an interesting dynamic and complexity to a mixed drink.
Typically Shochu is only distilled once where the alcohol level stays between 20 – 25%, making it stronger than Sake. Enjoyed on its own, or blended into mixtures and paired with food, Shochu is also the top go to for low-ABV cocktails and aperitifs. In addition, it can serve as an alternative to cocktail classics like a Martini, Old Fashioned or Gimlet. The best and yet simple way to imbibe is diluted with hot water, called oyu-wari. The warm water elevates the aromatics while the rich flavors makE it an excellent sip during the fall/winter months.
iichiko Shochu is the top rated shochu brand in Japan that is quickly gaining approval in the US. Made from 100% two-row barley, fermented with Koji, iichiko, pronounced EACH-ko, translates to “it’s great.”. It is a Honkaku Shochu, the highest grade of shochu, distilled once to preserve rich flavor and character, with no sweeteners or additives and so smooth and easy to drink. Crafted in Japan’s southernmost island – iichiko Shochu is made from a region famous for its clean air, lush greenery, dense cedar forests, mountainous terrain, and geothermal springs. There are two expressions: iichiko Silhouette, the traditional expression of shochu enjoyed straight or served with water (both hot and cold) and iichiko Saiten, a full-flavored expression of shochu that is perfect for cocktails. Craft these low ABV cocktails at home, or if in New York, visit Masahiro Urushido of Katana Kitten and Kenta Goto of Bar Goto.
Shochu Bloody Mary
- 1 oz Serrano Chili infused iichiko Silhouette
- 0.75 oz iichiko Siten
- 0.5 oz Lime Juice
- 4 oz Tomato Juice
- 1 pinch of Sea Salt
Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin. Roll over and strain into a highball glass.