Image Map

Sunday, July 31, 2016


Shochu is a distilled liquor made in Japan, originating from the Kyushu area. Shochu remains popular in that area, in fact the area is unique in that shochu is more popular than sake unlike the rest of Japan.

Sometimes you may hear it called "Japanese vodka" which is a really simplistic way of getting us to understand what it is, however there are a lot of key differences that make shochu unique. In comparison to vodka and other hard liquror's 45% alcohol, shochu is normally around 25% alcohol. Also, vodka and other hard liquors are normally distilled several times while shochu is often distilled only once. This allows the ingredients the shochu was made with to really shine through and allows for variation of taste. When it is single distilled, the shochu is called honkaku, when it is distilled more, it is called korui.

(L) barley; (R) sweet potato
For instance, Satsuma hokaku shochu (shown above) is made with sweet potatoes and the taste and aroma are stronger than other varieties. The taste can even be described as slightly smokey, like a whiskey. Other types of shochu may be made with rice, barley, sugar, and even soba. When it is made in the korui style, the alcohol level is higher (still lower than vodka) and becomes very clean and light tasting but without the nuances and aroma of honkaku single distilled varieties.

Traditionally, shochu is enjoyed neats, on the rocks, or diluted with hot water to allow the aroma to be enjoyed.

This Takara shochu is korui-style and very smooth
More recently, the Chūhai (チューハイ) cocktail has become a popular use of shochu. Chūhai, which is a portmanteau of "shochu" and "highball," combines shochu with carbonated water and lemon. This cocktail, low in alcohol and high in calories, now has tons of flavors: lychee, white peach, oolong, ume, yuzu, orange, grapefruit, and grape just to name a few that I have come across. I like the fact you can drink them without getting drunk as they are very low alcohol usually. Too bad it has so much sugar!

In my recipes, I usually use korui-style shochu, like shown in my umeshu recipe. I find korui shochu to be way smooth, less harsh tasting than vodka and the lower alcohol content keeps me from getting sick since I am sensitive to alcohol.

Recipes that use shochu:
Yuzu Kosho Bloody Mary

No comments:

Post a Comment