This article is about “Shochu”(焼酎) which is traditional Japanese distilled alcohol.
I assume Japanese whisky culture is influenced by “Shochu culture”.
So I cannot avoid explaining “Shochu culture” when I talk about japanese whisky.
The outline of shochu
Do you know Shochu?
Shochu is one of the Japanese traditional distilled alcohol.
Shochu is “焼酎” in Kanji.
“焼” means burning.
“酎” means fermented alcohol.
It is interesting, Kanji shows how to make it.
There are a lot of different kids of shochu. It depends on the ingredients.
For examples, Rice(kome 米), barley(mugi 麦), sweet potatoes(Satuma-imo 薩摩芋), buckwheat(soba ソバ), brown sugar(kokutou 黒糖),…etc.
To say it without worrying about being misunderstood, it is similar to silver rum.
Especially, shochu made from sweet potatoes is very famous in Kyushu, southside of Japan.
The origin of sweet potatoes was central America.
It came to Japan through the Asian continents around the 15th century.
Shochu is famous in Japan.
According to one theory, it came from Thailand or China.
However, the ingredients of some traditional foods came from other countries.
Historically, foods were transported by human beings. Did you know?
The ancient Italian people didn’t eat tomato spaghetti…
Traditionally, people in Kyushu region love shochu. It is one of their cultures.
It is very common and cheap sake traditionally.
Sometimes, it is called “economic sake” in Japan.
On the other hand, people in northside of Japan tend to drink Japanese sake than shochu.
It’s just a guess, but it may concern the temperature and humidity of the climate.
Kyushu is very warm and high humidity.
This kind of condition ruins the quality of Japanese sake very fast.
Shochu can stand such a hard condition because it is distilled sake.
On the other hand, northside of Japan is colder than the southside.
Some regions are covered with snow in the winter.
Owing to coldness, they can keep sake in good condition under this climate.
How does shochu taste?
Shochu’s flavor depends on its ingredients.
Sweet Potato shochu have a unique sweet flavor.
Some Japanese love it but many Japanese cannot drink it.
The taste is very unique and biting the tongue.
It is usually not matured like a whisky.
This combination is fantastic. I love sweet potato shochu.
At this time, I drank shochu without water because I was influenced by the way of drinking whisky.
How to drink?
Japanese traditionally add water, ice or hot water to shochu because the taste is strong.
Influenced by the way of drinking shochu, it become common sense for Japanese that distilled alcohol needs some water.
When whisky was imported from other countries, Japanese didn’t know how to drink.
Japanese people imaged that it needs adding water or something because it is distilled sake.
This is the reason why Japanese love drinking whisky with sparkling water or ice.
I assume this culture grew Japanese whisky up.
Almost Japanese whisky are designed to be considered that sparkling water or ice will add.
This background is influenced by shochu culture.
I assume that it led to using the Mizunara wood taste.
This big challenge was succeeded, and Japanese whisky is recognized as one of the measure whisky in the world.