Differences Between the Three Types of Shochu

Have you ever cared about the different tastes of Japanese alcoholic beverages? Shochu is made from a variety of base ingredients, so it tastes different. The interesting thing about shochu is that even a shochu beginner can feel the difference in taste between each ingredient. In this article, I’ll introduce the taste characteristics of each type of shochu!


Potato Shochu

The taste of potato syochu can be summed up in one word: mellow, sweet aroma. It is made from sweet potatoes, a vegetable with high sugar content, which gives it a strong sweet aroma.

There are more than 40 varieties of sweet potatoes used to make Potato Shochu. Depending on the type of sweet potato, the taste varies from sweet to fruity.

It has a strong flavor, so it is very tasty even when mixed with hot or cold water. For those who don’t like the strong flavor but want to enjoy shochu, I recommend drinking it with water or hot water!

Rice Shochu

Rice shochu has a fresh and fruity taste, which is similar to nihon shu, so nihon shu lovers may like it. The ingredients of rice shochu are simple. The koji is also made from rice, so rice shochu is a liquor made from only rice and water. It is relatively mild and goes well with dishes.

In other countries, “nihon-shu” is often referred to as “sake,” but in fact, “nihon-shu” is a kind of sake, and “shochu” is also a kind of sake. It differs from nihon-shu in the way of distillation. In nihon-shu, about 30-50% of the surface of the rice is removed to remove fat and protein, but in rice shochu, only 10-15% of the surface of the rice is removed in order to preserve umami. 


Awamori is a type of rice shochu made in Okinawa using Thai rice and black malt.
There are mild ones with less than 25% and old ones with 40%, all of which have a unique taste that leaves a strong aroma.

Barley Shochu

Barley is widely used as a raw material for alcoholic beverages. Barley is also used in whiskey, gin, and vodka. Shochu made from barley has no peculiar aroma and is easy to drink, making it a good choice for beginners. 

It has few peculiarities, so it is also good to drink with soda.It is made by fermentation using only the power of barley. Whisky is also a distillate of barley, but it has a completely different taste because it is aged for a long time in barrels.

Shochu varies with koji

There are three types of koji used in authentic shochu: black koji, white koji, and yellow koji. Depending on the type of koji, there are subtle differences in the taste of the shochu. The black koji has a strong and punchy taste, the white koji has a refreshing and light taste, and the yellow koji is mainly used for nihon-shu and gives it a fruity finish.

Brown sugar shochu is a type of shochu made only in the Amami area in Kagoshima Prefecture. There are many other types of shochu, such as Amami in Kagoshima Prefecture, which has shochu made from brown sugar. Which is your favorite?

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