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The Way of Shochu & Awamori

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The Way of Shochu & Awamori

Seminar by Philip Duff on behalf of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association at the Tales of the Cocktail festival, 18 July 2018, New Orleans.

Seminar by Philip Duff on behalf of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association at the Tales of the Cocktail festival, 18 July 2018, New Orleans.

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The Way of Shochu & Awamori

  1. 1. The Way of Shochu & Awamori with Philip Duff T: @philipduff IG: @philipsduff #Awamori #Shochu #TOTC2018
  2. 2. Made possible by:
  3. 3. Okinawan Whisper 2oz. (60ml) awamori 2 dashes plum bitters 2 dashes cherry bitters Dash of sugar syrup (1:1) Stir with ice Strain over a large rock or globe of ice Garnish with a brandied cherry (Fabbri, Filthy, etc) By Sævar Helgi Örnólfsson, “Sushi Social”, Iceland
  4. 4. Thank you very much! #Awamori #Shochu #TOTC2018 T: @philipduff IG: @philipsduff This PPT: www.slideshare.net/philipduff

Editor's Notes

  • Kyushu describes the third-largest island in Japan, and the most south-westerly. It is made up of eight prefectures - seven on the island itself, plus Okinawa prefecture to the south, which comprises the Miyako islands as well as Okinawa island. Okinawa also houses the first aquarium to contain whale sharks, of which (picture) they are very proud!
  • Kyushu is subtropical – sugar cane even grows there, especially towards the south; the Ryukyu Islands, of which Okinawa is a part, stretch all the way to Taiwan.
  • -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 shochu/awamori.
    - Koji describes a mould, aspergillus, with many different variations
    - Typically shochu uses aspergillus oryzae, but there are many different types, producing different flavours in the subsequent shochu (or awamori)
    - After the primary fermentation, the “mix” of yeast and koji enters a secondary fermentation with the shochu 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 shochu. 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. 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 shochu will typically be distilled to around 25%, in each case in a single distillation.
  • - Resting – nonreactive aging – is a significant part of shochu/awamori’s flavor.
    - Historically, shochu was rested in earthenware (pic: Satsuma Shuzo distillery, Kagoshima)
  • - Different methods of earthenware can be used, such as larger and smaller sizes of pots, and (in the case of the pictured Mizuho Shuzo distillery in Okinawa), massive tiled underground tanks. Historically, people home-aged their awamori in earthenware; now the distilleries do it for customers.
  • - However, stainless steel (invented 1913) has become popular. (pictured: 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 shochu, and yellow koji for their sweet-potato shochu, which has an unusual 1:7 rice: sweet potato ratio, and additionally adds some bamboo ash (for alkalinity?).
  • - Satsuma even has its own cooperage! They probably need it – they have 11, 184 barrels of barley shochu
  • - The tradition is to buy awamori and the distillery will store it for you – often in a cave! Pictured: entrance to aging cave Kin Shochu 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 Shochu on Okinawa
  • Pic: Taragawa distillery cave, Miyako island
  • 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.
  • There are many cocktail made locally with awamori and shochu, and like good bartenders everywhere, the local bartenders like to use local ingredients, like the bitter gourd.
  • There are many cocktail made locally with awamori and shochu, and like good bartenders everywhere, the local bartenders like to use local ingredients, like the bitter gourd. The Awamori Meister Organisation exists to help promote awamori cocktails; we sampled several such as the Ryukyu Syndrome, with 40ml of a ten-year-old 43% abv awamori, 10ml white mint liqueur, 10ml dry vermouth and 2 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters, stirred with ice and served straight-up in a cocktail glass.

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