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The Way of Shochu, 2020

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Seminar on shochu by Philip Duff, Dev Johnson & Don Lee at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to the USA, 4 February 2020, on behalf of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers' Association.

Seminar on shochu by Philip Duff, Dev Johnson & Don Lee at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to the USA, 4 February 2020, on behalf of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers' Association.

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The Way of Shochu, 2020

  1. 1. The Way of Shōchū with Philip Duff (@philipsduff) Don Lee (@donbert) & Dev Johnson (@devillmatic)
  2. 2. Made possible by: Ambassador Yamanouchi & The Japan Sake & Shōchū Makers’ Association #JSS_Shōchū
  3. 3. Origins of Shōchū Mid-1500s: Kagoshima, araki, orraqua (1546), shōchū (1549)
  4. 4. Origins of Shōchū Mid-1500s: Kagoshima, araki, orraqua (1549), shōchū (1559)
  5. 5. Origins of Shōchū
  6. 6. Shōchū: Definitions - Commonly made from rice, barley, sweet potato or sugar cane. - Saccharified with both koji (an aspergillus mould) AND yeast - Koji stimulates acid production, creating a high-acid ferment that historically prevented bacterial infection in the warm climates of traditional shōchū regions
  7. 7. Shōchū: Definitions - Single-distilled (honkaku, 1971) uses a pot-still and grain, potato, rice or sugar, and is bottled at less than 45% abv. - Continually distilled (korui, 1910) uses a column still and corn, potato or sugar, and is bottled at less than 36% abv. - Blended honkaku + korui (konwa), either 49% or less honkaku (“korui otsurui konwa”) or 51% or more honkaku (“otsurui korui konwa)
  8. 8. Shōchū: Definitions - May be rested in ceramic, glass or stainless steel, or aged in wooden barrels. - Usually bottled at 25% abv. - Awamori, from the Ryukyu Islands, is shōchū’s ancestor, and is essentially a single-ferment, black-koji, indica rice honkaku shōchū, bottled around 40% abv.
  9. 9. Shōchū: Raw Materials Over 20 unique raw materials: • Rice • Barley • Sweet Potato • Ginger • Carrot • Sesame
  10. 10. History of Sweet Potato Satsuma Shuzo
  11. 11. Varieties of Koji White koji Brings out the gently taste of the ingredients Yellow koji Creates a fruity and sophisticated taste Black koji Promotes the depth and complexity 11 Koji is the rice or barley cultivated with koji-fungus (a type of mold). The role ・supply enzymes for assist of fermentation. ・supply citric acid for antibacterial effect and help a good fermentation in the warm, humid area. ・bring smooth taste to shōchū
  12. 12. Normal pressure distillation Distill mash at 85-95℃ (185° – 203°F under atmospheric pressure Strong and rich taste, maintaining the full aroma of the ingredients Reduced pressure distillation Distill mash at 45-55 ℃ (113 °- 131 °F) under reduced pressure Light and smooth taste and flower-like aroma 21 Alcohol Aroma derived from ingredient and fermentation Aroma derived from distillation Two types of distillation methods with pot still
  13. 13. Insight: Production & Koji
  14. 14. Insight: Production & Koji
  15. 15. Insight: Production & Koji
  16. 16. Our Mixology Journey Begins…
  17. 17. While there we learned that Tommy Lee Jones was Boss of all canned coffee dispensers throughout Kyushu.
  18. 18. Phil made a new friend along the way.
  19. 19. Traditional Shōchū serves • Sutore to - Straight • On za rokku - on the rocks • Mizuwari - with water • Oyuwari - warm/hot water • Sodawari - mixed with sparkling water
  20. 20. Drinking Shōchū
  21. 21. • Aperitivo Highball Collins Sour Fizz Hot Toddy Boozy and Stirred (high abv) Cocktail Application
  22. 22. Ichi-go Dev Johnson, Employees Only NYC • 1.5 oz. Kangakoi • 1 oz. Dolin Blanc • .50 oz. Amontillado Sherry • .50 oz. Benedictine • 2 dashes chocolate bitters • Stirred • Garnish: orange twist
  23. 23. Ichi-e Dev Johnson, Employees Only NYC • 3 oz. Heihachiro (sweet potato) Shochu • .75 oz. Banana Liquer • .25 oz. fresh lemon juice • garnish: pansy (edible)
  24. 24. Negroni (twist) Devender Kumar Shochu Coconut oil fat washed Campari Carpano Antica
  25. 25. KOJI GANG 2019 AT THE FUJI SHUZO AGING CAVE. USUKI, OITA, NIPPON
  26. 26. Abe-san, 70+ yrs young. Eau de Vie, Beppu
  27. 27. Thank you: Ambassador Yamanouchi #JSS_Shōchū
  28. 28. Thank you! Ambassador Yamanouchi #JSS_Shōchū @donbert @devillmatic @philipsduff

Editor's Notes

  • 123 miles from Taiwan at shortest distance
    Thailand (Siam)
    Iki island - Korea
  • Continual stills in Japan from 1900
  • - Malted grains not permitted
  • - Malted grains not permitted
    - Honkaku aka otsu or otsurui
  • Shōchū-main ingredients, rice or barley, or Potato, has significant characteristic
    Rice-Kumamoto-Kome Shōchū-flavor is mellow, soft and light flavors
    Mugi(Barley)- Iki, Oita history of mankind, and has served a major role in the production of alcoholic beverage, probably coming from Korea, Character,-milder and easier to drink than Kome, fresh aroma, mild and light , vibrant taste
    Imo(Sweet Potato)-Kagoshima, Miyazaki region 40 barieties potato, Character-rich aroma of steamed sweet potato. The soft and sweet taste of sweet potato remains even diluted with hot or cold water
    Awamori-Okinawa-Indica rice-black koji-coming from only ryuku Kingdom- Culture coming from Thai –using Indica Rice
    Others-Ginger, Carrot, Pumpkin, Black Suger, Buckwheat, Sesame, Sake Lees
  • Sweet potato – 1600s Okinawa
    -How it got to Japan/Okinawa via Thailand.  How it got to Iki Island via Korea
    -1st Japanese distillate.
    -Culture and why the south? 

    The Shōchū of 500 years ago was made from rice and grain. (At that time Potato is not exist in Japan)
    Sweet Potato-is originally came from Central America and traveling to India, Philppines, Ryukyu Island (Okinawa),
    Kagoshima’s and Miyazaki climate and environment wil l spread extremely quickly-help starvation, valued products.
    Satsuma Potato varies greatly in color, flavor, & Color and starch content with Koji fermentation-final flavors of the final product vary as different ingredient

    Distillation Techniques
    Ancient evidence, dates distillation techniques from 3000BC in Mesopotamimia, and technique spread to the western countries like Arab to India. This techniques were originally used for production of medicines and perfumes
    From the China continent coastline or silk road, it came to the Northern part of Kyushu in Japan like Iki Island, (by way of the Korean Peninsula)
    It came from South Asia to Ryuku Island(Okinawa) by the way of Thailand rice-bring to Southern part of Kyushu



  • Koji is the most important material for shōchū.
    There are 3 roles shown in this table.
    one is supplying enzymes.
    second is supplying citric acid which has antibacterial effect.
    third is bringing smooth tase

    And nowadays 3 varieties of koji are used. Each koji brings different flavor.
    White koji draws out the gently taste of the ingredients.
    Black koji promotes the depth and complexity.
    These 2 koji are mainly used.
    Yellow koji which is commonly used in sake making creates sake like flavor.
  • -Water, yeast (commonly brewer’s yeast) and koji go into a primary fermentation, which can last a week. The koji helps produce citric acid in fermentation, an important flavor for shōchū/awamori.
    - Koji describes a mould, aspergillus, with many different variations
    - Typically shōchū uses aspergillus oryzae, but there are many different types, producing different flavours in the subsequent shōchū (or awamori)
    - After the primary fermentation, the “mix” of yeast and koji enters a secondary fermentation with the shōchū ingredients, which have been steamed. Typically 1 ton of rice will make 1400 liters of 30% abv awamori. Awamori typically uses black koji and long-grain Thai indica rice, while white or yellow koji and Japanese rice, sweet potato, sugar cane, brown sugar, buckwheat and other ingredients are also used for shōchū. A common rice: sweet potato ratio is 1:5. This secondary fermentation can last 8-10 days.
    -
  • - Distilling happens almost exclusively in stainless-steel pot stills, and usually takes several hours. Heads are not usually cut. The one pictured is from Taragawa distillery on Miyako island, established 1948; they distill to 61% alcohol, then reduce it to 38%, aging it a minimum of one year in stainless steel. This “horizontal” style of still was popular in Canada in the 1950s, apparently, so perhaps that was the inspiration for Taragawa and other distilleries we saw on Miyako island, such as Miyanohana, which also have a still like this. Awamori will commonly be distilled to 43% ABV (but not above 45%), while shōchū will typically be distilled to around 25%, in each case in a single distillation.
  • Satsuma Kinzangura, Kagoshima, 1868, gold mine from 1658
  • There are two types of distillation method in shōchū making.
    One is the normal pressure distillation that is traditional method. In this case, mash is distilled at high temperature, and then shōchū has strong and rich taste and the aroma of ingredients.

    The other is the reduced pressure distillation which is a newer method. In this case, mash is distilled at around 50℃, then shōchū has flower-like aroma and light and smooth taste.
    Nowadays there are both type shōchū on the market.

    -Normal pressure 
    -Slow/low pressure
    -Flavor difference
  • - However, stainless steel (invented 1913) has become popular. (pictured: Satsuma Shuzo distillery, Kagoshima).
  • - Resting – nonreactive aging – is a significant part of shōchū/awamori’s flavor.
    - Historically, shōchū was rested in earthenware (pic: Satsuma Shuzo distillery, Kagoshima)
  • - Experimentation is being conducted: pictured: Satsuma Shuzo distillery, Kagoshima, initially aging awamori in virgin, Canadian oak for a short period, then transferring to stainless steel or earthenware. Satsuma use white koji for their barley shōchū, and yellow koji for their sweet-potato shōchū, which has an unusual 1:7 rice: sweet potato ratio, and additionally adds some bamboo ash (for alkalinity?).
  • - The tradition is to buy awamori and the distillery will store it for you – often in a cave! Pictured: entrance to aging cave Kin Shōchū on Okinawa
  • - The tradition is to buy awamori and the distillery will store it for you – often in a cave! Pictured: entrance to aging cave Kin Shōchū on Okinawa
  • Momentous moments – the birth of a child, marriage – are commemorated by buying bottles of awamori. The distillery stores it, and when you want it –even decades later – you return to claim it, open it, and drink it. This mirrors similar practices in Europe with brandy, eau-de-vie and cognac, and in Mexico with glass-aged mezcal madurado.
  • Tekkan Wakamatsu, toji of Yamato Zakura distillery, Kagoshima.
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