Shochu Starts with Kagoshima: Try the Traditional Kagoshima Imo Shochu!13 Sep 2021
Shochu Starts with Kagoshima
Shochu making began in Kagoshima around the 16th century. It is thought that the distillation technology developed in West Asia was introduced to Kagoshima from Siam (today's Thailand) via Okinawa. At first, rice was the main ingredient, but the Shirasu region covered with the volcanic ash of Sakurajima was not suitable for rice production, so it did not take root. It took the arrival of sweet potatoes for shochu production to flourish in Kagoshima.
The cultivation of sweet potatoes began in Kagoshima in the 18th century. The sweet potato seedlings brought back from the Ryukyu Islands were suitable for cultivation on the Shirasu plateau, so they spread quickly throughout Kagoshima, and the sweet potato shochu production took root. Kagoshima still produces the most sweet potatoes in Japan, accounting for more than a quarter of the total domestic production. Another reason why so much sweet potato shochu is made in Kagoshima is that the city has been actively doing research relating to using sweet potatoes in shochu.
Try a True Kagoshima Imo Shochu
Since the times of the Satsuma clan, Kagoshima has positioned sweet potato shochu as an important local specialty, and has encouraged its production and quality improvement. As a result, many shochu breweries have refined their shochu-making techniques through friendly rivalry, and even today, more than 100 shochu breweries continue to improve their techniques. Today, there are more than 2,000 brands of Kagoshima's imo shochu, and it is said there is no brand that tastes the same.
One of the breweries that has always had a strong passion for making a good imo shochu is Ogatama Shuzo. Established in 1894, the brewery continues brewing shochu using century-old traditional methods, with earthenware pots buried in the ground and aged to achieve its mild, elegant flavour.
Tekkan is the flaghsip brand of the brewery. Only carefully selected satsuma sweet potatoes are used, and both the primary and secondary brewing are done in a traditional earthenware pot. Enjoy the aroma, softness, and fullness of the drink. Tekkan Imo Shochu is the perfect representation of what Kagoshima imo shochu should taste like!