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Kagura No Mai
Kagura no Mai, with its plain black and white label with abstract drawings of village life, doesn't shout from you off the shelf. Nor does is grab you out of the glass. It's light and clean with the forward aromas of sake yeast. This leads me to believe it's a low pressure distillate and that the distillery has chosen to use a traditional sake yeast rather than one of the more neutral shochu yeasts. Read More...

rural YZ
My 21 full days and 2 partial days in Japan represent the longest I've been outside of NYC since I moved there over 11 years ago and the longest I've been outside of the US in my lifetime. For the first time in my life I'd been able to get my mind far enough outside the US to gain some perspective. And for the first time in over a decade I'd been able to detach myself from the frenetic all-consuming chase that is life in NYC. Read More...

day 22 sachi imo
A typhoon that had been threatening Kyushu weakened and changed course so we were left with some clouds and light rain for my last day in Ichiki. A local TV station, MBC-Kagoshima, which had profiled my visit to Komasa Shuzo last summer, found me again for a piece on my internship at Yamato Zakura. Read More...

koji
The afternoon's work was broken up by a visit to the Tengu Sakura Shuzo, a 5 minute walk from Yamato Zakura. This is another tezukuri (handmade) distillery in Ichiki, but it's a much larger operation, making two to three times more shochu each day and having many more brands. The telltale Tengu (a god-like creature with a long nose) bottle appears throughout Japan in any respectable shochu bar. Read More...

day20koji
Today is another slower day at the distillery since Sunday's closure means no imo washing today. I get to sleep in until a decadent 7am before starting the day's work. Over breakfast Tekkan-san informs me that the local newspaper and government offices will be visiting to conduct an interview with me - they'd caught wind of my internship through his facebook page. Read More...

saruya owner
To say that Saruya ("monkey house") is in Satsuma-Sendai is kind of like saying that Staten Island is in New York City. Technically it is, but only technically. Driving down a dark country road surrounded by thick old forest we come upon a small parking lot in front of a windowless building decorated with shochu bottles and a neon sign. This was our destination. There's not another building in sight. Read More...

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