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Japanese shochu is a popular clear, earthy-flavored Asian liquor that dates back many centuries. After the distilling process, it has about a 25 percent alcohol by volume.

A Quick History of Shochu

Historians believe that the shochu tradition started in China or Korea, making its way to Japan in the 16th century. From this time, through the Edo era, old recipes for shochu developed in Japan. The Japanese shochu method used the kasutori, a single distillation process.

During the Meiji period, the Japanese wanted a mulitple distillation process, so they imported a new machine from Great Britian. At a time of rice shortages, shochu distributors could mass produce pure shochu with their new distilling equipment.

Even today, the Japanese use similar equipment for multiple distillation to make shochu. Shochu distributors can mass produce for a minimal cost.

Shochu Ingredients

Although rice still appears to be the most popular taste for shochu, it can be made from other ingredients, including:

  • barley
  • soba
  • sugar
  • sweet potatoes
  • wheat.

Some distributors may also add a base of sesame or chestnut to the above shochu ingredients.

The majority of shochu is made on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Generally, shochu is described as tasting stronger than wine and beer but not as powerful as hard liquor.

Thailand shochu is also popular; the distributors and drinkers there often call their liquor Awamori. {LINK: awamori.php}

How to Drink Shochu

There are a variety of ways to drink shochu, including:

  • diluted with hot water
  • diluted with water
  • infused with fruit
  • mixed with fruit juice or oolong tea
  • mixed with beer to make a hoppy
  • on the rocks.

Cocktail Recipes For Shochu

Blending shochu with other flavors has become a trend. Here are some cocktail recipes for shochu:

Lime Chu-Hai Recipe


  • 2 oz. shochu
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • soda water.


  1. Pour lime juice and shochu over ice.
  2. After stirring, add soda water.

The popularity of canned Chu-Hai is on the rise. Its taste is similar to a wine cooler you”d get in the United States. In Japan, canned Chu-Hai can be found in stores and vending machines. Hoppies can also be found in markets.

Far East Recipe


  • 1 part shochu
  • 1 part melon liqueur
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice.


  1. Shake mixture with ice, and strain over a glass of ice.
  2. If you like, garnish with oranges and maraschino cherries.

This mixture makes enough for two people.

Shochu in Modern Times

Years ago, Shochu was considered a drink for old men. But, after much targeted marketing, it has begun to attract drink enthusiasts of all ages. With this shift in the popularity of the shochu market (which occurred in 2004), recent sales of shochu are surpassing sake, a brewed rice wine.

Due to the boost in sales, there have been shortages in sweet potatoes. This vegetable is the baseline ingredient in shochu.

Young women are often attracted to shochu because it is low in calories. The low calorie count of this beverage makes it a popular choice among diet-conscious drinkers. In fact, shochu is being recognized as the healthy alcoholic beverage alternative.

 Posted on : May 26, 2014