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.
Arriving under threat of rain (June is rainy season in Japan), but not typhoon conditions, the first stop in Iki was the smallest distillery in Iki, Omoya Shuzo. Just 11 shochu producers currently exist in Iki and Omoya-san is the only tezukuri (handmade) distillery left on the island. Due to the demand for the light, clean flavors and aromas of barley shochu throughout Japan, handmade production is not always possible.
I've never missed a flight before in my life, but this time was different. Not only did I miss my return flight from Tokyo to NYC, but I woke up after my flight had left. That's what I get for having an izakaya crawl the night before a 6:50am departure. Missing a flight is never a good thing, but hoping to make the most of it I had one more night in Tokyo, which many would agree is the top culinary city in the world.
The English language has hundreds of words to describe colors. Japanese has just a few. Contrarily, Japanese has hundreds of words to describe taste or aromas while English has relatively few. This reflects a profound cultural difference in which senses dominate the human experience. Westerners tend to concentrate very much on visual stimuli and rely less on aroma and taste in making decisions. On the contrary, Japanese culture is essentially obsessed with the aromas, tastes, and textures of food.
Shochu Tuesdays have a new home at SakaMai. If you've been following the site for a while, you know that these started at Izakaya Ten back in 2008 when I first discovered shochu. The experience stuck with me and corrupted me in ways I didn't expect.
A few random questions I'm often asked.