At the event, held in March 2015, buyers from the US, UK, Israel, China, South Korea, Thailand, and Cambodia met with sake and shochu producers from around Kumamoto. We toured Hitoyoshi, the center of the rice shochu universe. Hitoyoshi is nestled in the valley of the Kuma River, which has been voted the best river in Japan every year for years.
The more I explore shochu, the more interesting facets I discover. I wish I could share all of them in real time, but as you’ve probably noticed I’m not able to spend as much time on updating Kampai.US as I have been in the past. Life and work intrude and I spend far more of my time talking with people about shochu than writing about it. That said, I’ll keep it up and I’ve invited a few guest writers who hopefully will start to contribute additional content. But this post wasn’t meant to be an apology. Rather, this is about one of those facets of shochu culture that I love.… Read More “Gift Shochu: Two for One”
Tsukushi Kuro is one of four barley shochus available in the U.S. from Nishi Yoshida Shuzo, a premium barley shochu maker from Fukuoka. All of their U.S. products are made with barley koji, resulting in a 100% barley shcohu. Typically, barley shochus such as iichiko or Yufuin, take a light, clean approach to their shochus usually using white rice koji and low pressure distillation.
In 2013 I wrote an entry for every day of my 3 week adventure in Kyushu. This year I didn't write a single post while spending 3.5 weeks in Japan. I'll blame a wonky laptop that was in the Fukuoka Apple Store until the day I left Japan, but mostly I wanted to immerse myself in the moment without the distraction of "What am I going to write about today?"
As of this writing, Izakaya Ten, has closed its doors. The place where I discovered shochu and where I spent more nights than anywhere else over a 4 year span is no more. According to their website, "We would like to inform you that we are closing down our restaurant on Saturday, October 11th 2014. We want to thank you for sharing good times and tell you how much we have enjoyed serving you. Good Bye."
Using all Washington state local ingredients save koji imported from Japan and ginger from warmer climes, Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan have begun making small batch, hand-crafted barley shochu in a beautiful copper still. To save on man power and elbow grease the still is elevated on a platform above the distillery floor to make cleaning easier, letting gravity do much of the work.