Shochu is a popular Japanese distilled spirit made of many different ingredients such as barley, sweet potatoes, rice, buckwheat, brown sugar, and among others. This unique distilled spirit production first began in the southern region of Japan around the 15th century and gradually spread all over Japan. In recent years the popularity of Shochu has been revived among Japanese, notably the young generation.

Honkaku Shochu & Kohrui Shochu

There are two kinds of Shochu: "Kohrui Shochu", often called "Japanese vodka", is made by continuous distillation of polysaccharidic materials, and "Otsurui Shochu", also better known as "Honkaku (authentic) Shochu", made by single distillation. The former (Kohrui Shochu and grain whiskey) needs continuous distillation whereas the latter (Otsurui Shochu and malt whiskey) requires pot still.

Honkaku Shochu has three major characteristics:


  Kohrui Shochu Honkaku Shochu
Raw Materials Syrup/Molasses/Others Grain/Others
Fermentation Single fermentation Parallel multiple fermentation
Distillation Method Continuous distillation Parallel multiple fermentation
Percentage of Alcohol Less than 36% Less than 45%

Elements that define taste of Shochu

"Honkaku Shochu" comes in a variety of tastes and flavors (like sake and wines) that originate from the raw ingredients. However, if you understand the following four key elements:
1.The flavor from raw materials remains due to single distillation.
2.Made by multiple fermentation in parallel using rice malt.
3.Carries a gentle taste and can be drunk straight without aging.

You will grasp the basics of Shochu and figure out your favorite ones even when thousand different kinds are presented. Once you start looking for Shochu by yourself, you will realize the depth of its world.
Click here to see the details of Shochu brewing and distilling process.

More than 60 kinds of raw ingredients

More than sixty kinds of raw ingredients are used in the Shochu production. Each adds a distinctive taste to the resultant Shochu. The major ones are wheat, rice, sweet potatoes and dates.


  • Wheat: usually Nijo wheat is used to produce a light and easy to drink Shochu.
  • Rice: brings out rich taste, soft impact as well as unique sweetness and fragrance. Kuma Shochu and Ryukyu Awamori are famous for using rice in the first production process.
  • Sweet Potatoes: provide with distinctive sweetness, sweet aroma, and rich flavor.
  • Dates: very sweet fruits grown in the Middle East.


Sweet potato field/Rice paddy