What is...?Tips to enjoy Jizaké, including food matching lists.
- What are the various types of shochu?
- What are the basic ingredients in shochu?
- What is kojikin, and how does it affect shochu?
- What is the effect of the distillation process on shochu?
- What is the percentage of alcohol, and how does it affect shochu?
- What is the average shelf life of shochu?
Any shochu made with raw material is categorized as "otsu-rui." This type of shochu has the rich flavor and fragrance of the principal ingredient. It has to be diluted with water to reduce the alcohol content to less than 45 percent. "ko-rui" is made with a consecutive distilling method which removes any components without alcohol and produces a high degree of purity. This method has been in existence officially only since 1949.
Ko-rui has to be diluted with water until it contains less than 36 percent alcohol. "Ko-rui" shochu is very close to being both tasteless and odorless, so it is best used for cocktails.
Imo (Sweet Potato) Imo shochu was key in helping to make shochu popular throughout the world, and it really created a sales boom in Japan. Imo shochu has a plump fragrance, body (koku), and soft sweetness. If the imo shochu is served with hot water, the aroma of the main ingredient can be enjoyed even more.
Mugi shochu is aromatic and flavorful (umami.) Depending on the distillation method used, the taste can change from very light to mild. The barley used is usually polished to 60-65% of the original size to make shochu. Sometimes mugi shochu that is aged in the cask tastes like an aged single-malt whiskey.
Kome (Rice) Kome shochu is the original historical shochu. Kome shochu started being made at the same time that rice farming became popular in Japan. Kome shochu has a rich aroma of grain and a lightly refined sweetness similar to that of Japanese sak_. It is made with table rice or saké rice (sakamai) which is used for Japanese saké making.
Kokuto shochu is a specialty product from the Amami Islands which are close to the Nagasaki prefecture in Kyushu. The law used to forbid anyone from making shochu from just any sugar. It allowed only the cane from the Amami Islands until 1953, when the islands were returned to Japan from America. The law was changed to reflect changes in the customs and history associated with the making of kokuto shochu. This shochu has the unique aroma of sugarcane. It is very popular with women because of its clean, dry taste.
Awamori (Thai rice)
Awamori is a unique shochu from the tropical island of Okinawa. Awamori is distinct from other Otsu shochus. Shochu usually has two brewing processes before distillation, but Awamori needs only one because of the weather on Okinawa. Okinawa is a very hot island, so the product has to be protected from decomposition and bacteria. As a result, only one brewing process is used. Awamori has a deep fragrance and body. Awamori tastes much milder if it is aged for a longer period of time. Sometimes Awamori is aged under the sea. A water depth of 10 meters provides an ideal environment for preservation because it provides very low temperatures and cuts off sunlight.
Soba shochu has a fruity aroma and a unique sweetness that lingers on the tongue. Compared with other shochu, soba shochu does not require an acquired taste, so it is popular with many people. Soba shochu contains dietary fibers that remove cholesterol from the body, making it extremely beneficial to human health.
There are many other ingredients from all over Japan used in the making of shochu.
- Sesame seed
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.
Kuro koji-kin i (Black)
Kuro koji mold is very strong and is used to aid decomposition. It makes Shochu taste slightly sweet, rich and strong. Awamori (Thai rice) 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.
Ki koji-kin (Yellow)
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.
Shiro koji-kin (White)
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.
That vapor is made up of several components including water, alcohol, organic acids, amino acids and vitamins (there are more than 100 kinds.) Since high temperature evaporation is involved, the process produces many components that include furfurol (A colorless oily liquid, C4H3O.CHO, with a pleasant odor, obtained by the distillation of bran, sugar, etc., and regarded as an aldehyde derivative of furfuran.) This distillation method creates a thick/rich taste, strong flavor, and an enjoyable aroma from the ingredients.
Decompression distillation appeared more recently. This method is used as a way to drop the boiling point. The boiling point is usually 212 °F (100 ℃), and moromi can be boiled at 194 °F (90 ℃ But if atmospheric pressure is reduced by creating a vacuum in a distillation machine, the boiling point is also reduced, and moromi can be boiled at 122 °F (50 ℃) Shochu made by decompression distillation is mild, clean and light since it was distilled at low temperatures.
A long time ago, shochu was well known as a strong alcoholic beverage usually made by normal pressure distillation. Not all people like shochu, But the shochu image is changing to that of an easy-to drink-beverage, especially for women, because of the mildness resulting from decompression distillation. This method is commonly used for shochu made with kome (rice), mugi (barley) or soba (buckwheat.)
Shochu should be kept in a cool, dark place. Once it is opened, the taste of the shochu begins to change progressively as time passes. Once opened, shochu should be consumed within a couple of months.