Distilled, Not Brewed: Discovering Shochu

November 9, 2016 - November 9, 2016
past event image
Talk & Tasting past event

Meditative Chanting with Ko Ishikawa
Thurs., Nov. 10, 7 PM

Sounds to Summon the Japanese Gods
Fri., Nov. 11, 8:30 PM

Wednesday, November 9, 6:30 PM

Discover shochu, Japan’s other indigenous alcoholic beverage, at Japan Society’s first-ever public shochu tasting. Unlike sake, which is brewed, shochu is distilled (similar to vodka or whiskey), and can be made from a variety of raw ingredients, including barley, sweet potatoes, rice or even brown sugar. The shochu-making process produces a distinctly musical bubbling sound as vapors escape the earthenware jar, lending shochu a mystical quality. Shinichiro Watanabe, Chairman of the Committee on Shochu Planning at Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, examines the complexities of this versatile spirit, including its use in religious ceremonies on the island of Kyushu. The talk will also feature a short musical performance incorporating the ethereal sound of shochu fermentation, composed by Mamoru Fujieda.

Followed by a tasting reception featuring 22 varieties of shochu brewed with various raw ingredients including barley, sweet potatoes, rice and brown sugar. Co-organized by Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association.

TICKETS: $39/$34 Japan Society members
Must be 21 years, or older.

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Highlights from the shochu that will be available for tasting include:

 Asakura (Shinozaki Shuzo Distillery): Barley-based shochu aged and matured in oak barrels for more than 6 years. Fragrant, beautiful amber color from the aging process, whose taste can be compared to whisky with a touch of rum.

 Ginza Suzume Kohaku (Yatsushika Sake Brewery): Well-balanced, high class barley shochu aged in oak bourbon whisky barrel, creating mellow taste and golden color.
 Hebess Cool (Kyoya Shuzo): A ‘cocktail’ shochu with aromas of the rare hebess fruit, a unique citrus variety indigenous to the Hyuga region in Miyazaki. Possesses the mild flavor of sweet potato shochu and the fresh aroma of hebess. Served chilled and enjoy straight, on the rocks or over crushed ice.


 Kannoko (Satsuma Shuzo): Premium shochu made from 100% select barley. Rich and mellow flavor with fragrant aroma. Amber color comes naturally from the 3-year oak barrel aging process. All natural ingredients. Named after a stream in Kagoshima (Kannoko literally means ‘river protected by the gods’).


 Nadeshiko (Ikinokura Shuzo): A variation on a 400-year tradition, delivering an authentic depth of distilled barley combined with sweet flourish of cherry essence. Can be served as an aperitif or with fruits and chilled desserts such as sorbet and gelato.
 Satsuma Kurogodai (Yamamoto Shuzo): Made from Kagoshima sweet potatoes with fine quality water from the sacred Kanmuridake mountain. Bold and slightly sweet on the palate, full-body.
  Satsuma Tekkan (Ogatama Shuzo): Shochu made from select Satsuma sweet potatoes and brewed in traditional earthenware pots by a two-part processes.
  Umepon (Takahashi Shuzo): A puckering, refreshing and easy sweetness from a mixture of Japanese ume (plum) and juice of the dekopon fruit, a sweet variety of the mandarin orange.
International transportation for the composer and musicians is supported by The Japan Foundation.


  • Nov 09, 2016 at 6:30 pm