What are the different types of shochu?

Have you ever wondered why the taste profile of shochu differs from one shochu to another? Shochu, a distilled alcohol, can be made by a wider variety of ingredients. Therefore, it is not surprising that the resulting shochu would be different from each other. Sake is made only from rice, while shochu can be made from raw materials such as sweet potatoes, barley, buckwheat, corn, brown sugar, chestnuts, etc, or even a combination thereof. Each kind of ingredient imparts a unique and different flavour to the shochu!

Popular Types of Shochu

  • The rice (kome) shochu has a fairly thick taste. The aroma of grain would be similar to that of sake, as it shares the same base ingredient. Pair kome shochu with any kind of cuisine, especially sashimi, or enjoy it with rice dishes like donburi.
  • Sweet potato (imo) shochu has a plump fragrance and soft sweetness. The distinctive flavour and aroma is also best enjoyed with fatty dishes like fried food. Excellent with fried tempura or even chicken rice. Find out more about imo shochu here.
  • Shochu distilled from barley (mugi) results in a light, clean and mild taste. It is easy to drink, and if allowed to cask-aged, the taste will be slightly reminiscent of single-malt whisky. It goes well with most kind of food, especially simple dishes such as smoked salmon or sushi. Find some of our popular mugi shochu here.

Other Types of Shochu

  • Shochu distilled from brown sugar has a clean and dry taste. Contrary to what many believe, the resulting shochu is not as sweet as expected. In fact, some people find that brown sugar shochu has a slightly more aromatic taste profile. Slightly less common than mugi or imo shochu, but nevertheless a favourite among shochu lovers.
  • Buckwheat (soba) shochu has a sweet, fruity aroma that lingers. It has a milder taste compared to mugi shochu, but with the same drinking ease. Best enjoyed with meats and seafood.
  • Shiso shochu is made with the aromatic shiso, it carries a wonderful scent and soft flavour of shiso leaves.

These are not all the shochus available, and there are still countless other types distilled from various ingredients – and you can’t say that you tried shochu until you all tried them!


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