Nihonshu is not about “sake” only, “shōchū” is another kind with a great variety and low calories.
There are many kinds of distilled beverage in the world, such as whisky, brandy, and tequila, etc. The distilled beverage represents for Japan will be “shōchū.”
“Distillation” is a process that heat up alcoholic liquid, so the components will be evaporated into the gas phase which will be condensed back into liquid form and collected. Go through the process will transform the alcohol liquid into “distillate beverage.” In addition, the sugar component is difficult to be evaporated and remain the stay in the liquid, therefore “distillate beverage” is also an alcoholic liquor with low calories which prevent to gain weight.
The raw materials for “shōchū” simply are “rice”, “sweet potatoes”, “barley”, “brown sugar”, “long grain rice”, as well as “sesame seeds”, “wasabi”, “milk”, etc. other raw materials. Based on different raw materials , the “shōchū” also taste differently. But even using the same raw materials, different suppliers produce “shōchū” in different tastes. For example, “sato kuro” and “tomino hozan” are two different “shōchū” but both produce by using tuber crop for raw material. “sato kuro” tastes sweet and aroma full of tuber crop; on the other hand, “tomino hozan” tastes smoother with more fruity and flowery aroma. It is very difficult to tell they are made of tuber crop. Because of this, “shōchū” is a protential alcohol beverage after all.
For people who interested in “shōchū”, we will explain more about the classification. If you see “Honkakushochu” wording on the bottle, it stands for authentic shōchū. But it doesn't means that shōchū is not authentic if the bottle doesn't show. Simply is identify different distillation methods. Specifically, “shōchū” has divided into two categories, “kourui” and “otsurui.” “kourui” generally distilled from a fermented liquid into high purity shōchū repeatly during distillate process. Due to the reasonable price and lighter taste, it is very suitable to be base liquor for cocktail and green plum wine. “Otsurui” uses Japanese traditional method by single distillation. The flavor is heavier and more earthy, normally enjoyed it straight. “Otsurui” do not adding any sugar or other additives, so it has been called “Honkakushochu.”
Everyboy has different preferences of shōchū taste, but we will definitely recommended “Honkakushochu” for people who want to try in original taste. Many izakayas sell “Honkakushochu” in Japan, therefore please go and try to order shōchū with your meal, its very matching with sashimi, yakitori and Japanese cuisine.