Category Archives: shochu
Hey, looking for a booze expert for a lecture, guided tasting/dinner or any related drink-related speaking opportunity? Hit me up! I’m for hire. I’m also a Certified Sake Sommelier and Certified Shochu Adviser, if those strike your fancy. But I my expertise extends to a wide spectrum of distilled spirits and fermented beverages (including beer!)
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Shochu expert Stephen Lyman of Kampai.us brings us up to date on the Japanese spirit’s expanding presence in the U.S. market. Apologies for some of the audio on this one.
The more acquainted I get with shochu, the more I realize how much more there is to learn about it. It’s such an easy beverage to like, but not such an easy one to know.
In 2015, I’ve traveled to Japan twice—mostly to the epicenter of shochu production, the southern island of Kyushu—with the express purpose of exploring the elusive spirit that gets a chapter-long shout-out in The Year of Drinking Adventurously (my new book, due out in a little over three weeks—pre-order today).
Back in March I toured several shochu distilleries, dined with their proprietors and made a circle of new friends whose common bond is a passion for the drink. In October, I returned to Kyushu (thanks to the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association and Kampai.US mastermind Stephen Lyman) for a bigger, bolder sequel to that spring experience. Read the rest of this entry
It’s the first “very special episode” of The Drinkable Week. (Grab the tissues and don’t do drugs, kids.) This week, I’m in Tokyo and in the Kagoshima and Kumamoto Prefectures experiencing shochu, the treasured spirit of the southern island of Kyushu. The itinerary, very generously organized by the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association (JSS), included tours of six distilleries and more bars than I can count (and so much amazing food!) Extra special thanks to JSS’s Ken Kajihara and Kampai.US’s Stephen Lyman for pulling this grand adventure together.
The Japanese drinking scene is serious business. There are plenty of environments in which to imbibe but, perhaps, the best place type of place end up after a crawl into the wee hours is one of the many 5-seat holes in the wall that fits only you, four friends, a bartender and whatever beer, wine, spirits and sake that’s in stock. It’s cozy, intimate and charming and enables revelers to really connect with their servers. This particular establishment is in Tokyo’s Nombei Yokocho (“Drunkard’s Alley”), in the Shubiya district.
Japan’s southernmost home island, Kyushu, is the center of the shochu-distilling universe. Kyoya, located in the town of Nichinan in Miyazaki Prefecture, is among the world-class Kyushu distilleries, blending tradition with modern technology. That brownish vessel is a traditional clay fermentation pot, which usually sits just below floor level, with its opening on the floor’s surface.