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Learning About Shochu:
What Is Koji-kin, and How Does It Affect Shochu?

Koji-kin (aspergillus oryzae) is the mold used in shochu production to break down the starches in steamed rice or sweet potatoes into fermentable sugars so that the yeast can then begin their job of converting the sugar into alcohol. Koji-kin is very, very important in producing or affecting the taste of the final shochu.

There are three kinds of koji-kin (mold) for making shochu. They are kuro (black) koji mold; Ki (yellow) koji mold; and shiro (white) koji mold. Each koji mold has a different function to give variation to the final shochu product.

Koji Variety Koji Characteristics Result on Shochu
Aroma Flavor
Shiro Koji
Shiro koji mold was found in a mutation of kuro koji mold. This koji mold quickly converts starch into sugar since its enzyme power is very impressive. Shochu made with shiro koji mold can taste plump, sweet, mild or sharp.
  • Mutation of Kuro Koji-kin mold
  • This koji has very strong enzyme power
Mild aroma, kind of similar to ginjo's sake aroma Plump, sweet, mild and sharp
Kuro Koji
Kuro koji mold is very strong and is used to aid decomposition. It makes Shochu taste slightly sweet, rich and strong. Awamori (Thai rice shochu) is usually used with kuro koji mold. Imo (sweet potato) shochu is often made with kuro koji since it produces a very impressive aroma. Any brewing facility or person who works where shochu is made with kuro koji mold will often be covered in black dust.
  • Very strong for decomposition
Strong and impressive aroma Slightly sweet, rich and strong
Ki Koji
Ki koji mold is very sensitive, and its temperature is very difficult to control. The taste of shochu made with ki-koji is very fruity, light, and smooth
  • Very sensitiv mold
  • The controlling of its temperature is very hard to handle
Fruity and elegant Fruity, light and smooth

Learning More About Shochu

Tips to enjoy shochu including food matching lists.

›› Shochu Cocktail Recipes

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