Discovering Shochu: Episode 5 – Barley Shochu

Last month, the focus was on Imo Shochu – its history, characteristics, food pairings and serving suggestions.  This month, DISCOVERING SHOCHU will feature all about Mugi Shochu.   It is said that the roots of Mugi Shochu dates back to the Edo period, from Iki Island located between Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula. The island […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 12 – Back to the Roots

During the last 60 years, from the Showa to the Heisei eras, ingenuity and technology advancements of unprecedented speed have improved machineries used in sake related research, development and production.  For instance, sake brewing steps spanning from rice polishing to koji and yeast production, have all improved greatly to ensure a top quality output.  Through […]

Discovering Shochu: Episode 4 – Imo Shochu (sweet potato)

The last three DISCOVERING SHOCHU articles have touched upon all ingredient types. The next few episodes will focus on each Shochu type, delving deeper into the history, characteristics, food pairings, and serving suggestions.  The first focus will feature Imo Shochu (sweet potato shochu).   Alike all potato families, Kansho sweet potatoes were said to have […]

Discovering Shochu: Episode 3 – Characteristics of Shochu by Ingredient

Honkaku Shochu, or traditional Shochu, represents Japan’s pride and true distillation art.  Moromi mash created using koji spores indigenous to Japan, and the use of single distillation yields distinct flavor characteristics and refined aroma highlighting the original ingredient.  And unlike many distilled spirits from around the world, there are various types of Honkaku Shochu differing […]

Discovering Shochu: Episode 2 – History of Shochu Pt. 2

Reasonating History and Geography of Its Heartland   Areas covering Kyushu and Okinawa are relatively small by comparison to Japan’s total land mass, however, they house more than half of the 470 total breweries producing Shochu in Japan.  What makes it so surprising is the myriad of interesting honkaku shochu products which have developed as […]

Discovering Shochu: Episode 1 – History of Shochu Pt. 1

Origin of the Distillation Technology   Research shows that distillation machines existed in Mesopotamia near present day Iraq, around 3000 BC. Westward in Europe, distillation machines developed alchemy, and eastward, in India, provided the modern technique to produce medicines and perfumes. Much later around the 13th century during the Yuan Dynasty in China, distillation machines […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 11 – Minerality

According to Wikipedia, minerality is “a sense of mineral-ness in the wine. It’s not an everyday word, but it’s one we use to describe wine. For sake brewing, the quality of water used is as important as the quality of sakamai, or sake rice. Each brewery opts for quality water sources, to reflect the water’s […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 10 – Sakamai (Sake Rice)

Have you wondered why sake requires a certain type of rice, namely sake rice as opposed to rice which is used for consumption? Let’s take a close look at sake rice, or sakamai in Japanese. So, why do brewers use sake rice, a particularly expensive and difficult to strain of rice to grow? It’s because […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 9 – Shochu

How to enjoy hot sake was the topic I covered in the last episode/article, but did you know that in some parts of Europe “hot wine” is being consumed during the cold Winter season? It’s called “Vin Chaud” in France, and “Gluhwein” in Germany. Wine is heated with spices like cinnamon and clove and with […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 8 – How to Enjoy Hot Sake

Years end in 2010 in Los Angeles was par­ticularly odd as rain continued for days, along with record low temperatures. It was dur­ing those times that I’d crave warm foods and drinks. As the winter’s cold penetrated down to my bones, I too headed to an iza­kaya pub to seek comfort with a drink of […]