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sake and shochu

Sake is well known outside of Japan. Sake is a rice wine,fermented alcohol made from rice. However, the rice for sake is not the same type which you eat as a white rice at the Japanese restaurant. It is specially harvested for producing sake, not for meals.

There is also an alcohol called shochu. Shochu is not fermented but distilled alcohol, made from various types of crops. The major ingredients are barley, rice, sweet potato and buckwheat. Shochu are mostly produced in Kyushu, which means consumption of shochu is much higher in Kyushu than in other parts of Japan.

However, there are shochu produced outside of Kyushu, as like shown in the picture. Unfortunately all bottles are not shochu, including one sake but all of them are produced in Niigata prefecture.

Sake is drunk warm or cold(and also room temperature), never putting ice on it but shochu are drunk differently. It is similar to whiskey, Japanese drink as straight(no ice), on the rock(with ice), mizuwari(mineral water is added. sometimes with ice too), oyuwari(hot water is added), oolong-wari(mixed with oolong tea. Hot or cold) and umewari(umeboshi, salted Japanese plum is in the glass together with water or hot water).

Shochu was once recognized by people in Tokyo as an alcohol for blue collar labors till 90s, but now is widely consumed throughout the nation by white collar businessmen.

If you travel to Kyushu, you should definitely try several local shochu.

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