Nihonshu is a Japanese alcohol beverage made from finely polished rice, water, yeast & special mold called Koji-kin. Nihonshu is what we call Sake in English, but in Japanese, Sake is a term referring all alcohol beverages in general. Nihonshu is a unique types of fermented alcohol beverage which is not a wine, neither is it exactly a beer, nor a spirit. The fermentation process is similar to the one of beer. The difference is the starch decomposition in Nihonshu is not caused by enzymes from the malt but from a special mold called Koji mold. Nihonshu is rice wine should be enjoyed with meal and depending on the season or situation you can enjoy Nihonshu in a different temperatures such as chilled, room temperature, warm or very hot. Alcohol contain should be around 17-14%.
Shochu is a Japanese indigenous spirit mainly produced in the southern island called Kyushu Island. Unlike Nihonshu, Shochu is distilled after it is brewed. And it is made from one of a various materials including sweet potato, barley, buck wheat, rice, sweet corn or brown sugar. In general, people drink it on the rocks with a dash of water. Alcohol contain should be around 25%.
There are two main types in Shochu; Kou-rui and Otsu-rui.
Kou-rui - Multiple Distilled Shochu
This kind of Shochu is similar to multiply distilled vodka. It is much smoother, lighter and cleaner. Alcohol percentage is less than 36%. Good to be used in mixed drinks.
Otsu-rui - Single Distilled Shochu
Single distillation leaves smell & flavour of the original source ingredient and strong individual character in a taste. Basically, this one is premium quality. Alcohol percentage is less than 45%. Good to be used for on the rocks or mixed with water.
Awamori is an origin of Japanese indigenous spirit and unique to Okinawa Island. It is made from long-grained indica rice. It is brewed and distilled just once. Awamori is fermented with Black Koji of Okinawa origin. Awamori shows the greatest charm in its aging. Aging deepens the taste and flavour of Awamori through a long, undisturbed process. The more matured, the milder the taste becomes. When aged for more than three years, it is called “Kusu” and it can be preserved for several decades. After a long preservation, you will find hearty liquor richness in taste and flavour.
Umeshu is Japanese traditional liquor made from Ao Ume (green plum), sugar and white spirit like Shochu (or sometimes Nihonshu). Umeshu has a sweet, mild and little bit sour taste and contains only 10-15% of alcohol. Because Umeshu can attract people by its mild flavour and aroma, even who normally dislike alcohol could accept it as a special exception. Ao Ume contains a lot of acid which kills bacteria in food, water & blood. So people in Japan believe that Umeshu has a sterilizing power and beautiful aroma to relax people’s mind. That’s why Japanese people have consumed it as healthy Sake from the old time. Umeshu is a perfect option as an aperitif or dessert wine.