After our episode, A Shochu Lesson with Erik Zmara aired, Stephen Lyman of Kampai.us tweeted us some extra info that we are including here. Follow Stephen and keep learning about this wonderful spirit!
- Black sugar is “kokuto” – blocks of dried molasses. Still uses rice koji for 1st fermentation.
- Kokuto shochu is from Amamioshima in Kagoshima Prefecture, not Okinawa. Okinawa makes Awamori.
- Amamioshima is a cluster of islands between Kagoshima & Okinawa. It’s the only place kokuto shochu can be legally made.
- If kokuto shochu not made in Amamioshima, it must be labeled and is taxed as rum.
- Amami-shochu doesn’t have AOC designation from WTO, but does have its own AOC from the Japanese government.
- Most barrel aging is oak, but diverse virgin sourcing: American, French, Japanese oak.
- Used oak is US whiskey, bourbon, Scotch, Sherry casks, & wine barrels, but as guest said: anything they can find.
Others woods are being explored. I have seen Japanese maple & cherry blossom experiments in progress.
Barrel aging shochu is relatively recent – probably from the early 1960s when whiskey became popular.
- Ceramic aging goes back centuries. Many distilleries still make their ferments in clay, as well.
Where to find great shochu lists:
Murasaki Sake Lounge in Chicago
Momiji in Seattle
Aya in NYC
Sakamai Izakaya & Sake Bar in NYC
Ippuku in Berkeley
Daikaya in DC (side note: one of our favorites, too).
Big thanks, to Stephen for contributing to our knowledge base. We hope to talk shochu with him in-person one of these days!
Arthur & Ed