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Shochu:(Japan) Made from Buckwheat

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine


Shochu:(Japan) Made from Buckwheat

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
Shochu is an indigenous Japanese Alcohol beverage that is distilled and has an alcohol content of usually 25% but sometimes as high as 42% or more. It is typically distilled from buckwheat, but also barley, rice, or sweet potatoes. The word "shochu" derives from a Chinese word meaning "burned liquor," but this only refers to the process to create it. Shochu actually has a light and clean taste.

Shochu was first made in Japan approximately 500 years ago, shortly after the technique of distillation was introduced by China. It is created by fermentation and then distillation of various carbohydrates, including wheat, rice, and molasses. The origin of shochu is uncertain, but some scholars accredited it to Thailand. Since the liquor can be made from such a huge variety of materials, shochu is appealing in that there are many different flavors available. Kome-jucho is made from rice and is mild, while imo-jucho is made from sweet potatoes and is stronger.

Often shochu is confused with Japanese sake, but the two are very different. The Japanese word "sake" can refer to all Alcohol beverages in general, but in western and southern regions of the country it refers to a specific beverage. This specific sake is a brewed rice wine and has a nutty taste in comparison to the fruity flavor of Shochu. Shochu and sake are often mistaken as the same drink since they are both indigenous to Japan and quite popular, but sake is brewed while shochu is distilled.

Shochu can be distilled in warmer regions, while sake must brew in relatively low temperatures. The development of Shochu can mainly be attributed to the weather and climate in which it is produced. The western part of the island of Honshu and the island of Kyushu (where Shochu production first began) boast very warm weather, significantly warmer than the rest of Japan. Today, Shochu is produced all across Japan.

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