Olly Wehring

Sake? Check. Shochu...?

By: Olly Wehring - 2 February 2007 15:53

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To the pictures (or movies, if you must) last night to watch Babel, and a scene where an undercover cop sinks a few shochus in Tokyo made me realise how little I know about the stuff.

It says here (I’m not telling you where), that shochu is a distilled, halfway-house tipple, somewhere in strength between whisky and wine. The drink, which is typically 25% abv, is from the Japanese island of Kyushu, where they’re apparently so proud of their product that they refuse to produce sake.

Shochu shipments within Japan surpassed those of sake for the first time in 2003 and, according to Wikipedia (damn, I told you), a Japanese citizen who, until recently, held the world record for longest life span - 120 - made shochu part of his daily diet.

Now, I’ve tried sake, which I liked very much, despite the evil deception it plays on you, as you’ll know when you try to stand up. But I’ve never had any shochu.

Has anybody tried it?

Comments on this blog post

Shochu is made by many brewers throughout Japan. According to Jetro, the Japanese Government export agency, the Shochu market in Japan has been growing whilst the sake market has been declining. Shochu is now a bigger market in Japan than sake. Shochu has become popular recently outside of Japan. There is at least one bar in Singapore that serves up to 50 varieties of the tipple and in London there is a shochu lounge underneath the popular Roka restaurant...


Rupert Sutton, Singapore

I use to live in Fukuoka on Kyushu island. Sochu is what I used to drink after a big meal of shabu-shabu. It's a bit like vodka but with a "milder" taste.


Charles Nadeau, Canada

You really can't talk about Shochu without bringing up Korean Soju. The battles between the two countries on which was the first to create the drink have gone on for as long as the two countries have had diplomatic relations. They both are fairly easy to drink with a touch of fruit to them. Which kind of fruit depends entirely on the distillery. American GIs are known for drinking entirely too much Soju and dying because they don't realize how much alcohol they're drinking. Ultimately, though, both Shochu and Soju are meant to be sipped with pungent foods as a balance (ying and yang) while dining. So if you do get a bottle of Soju, grab some kimchi to eat with it. For Shochu, get a nice fragrant sushi. The experience will be... spiritual.


Brian Macke, United States

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