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torakris

shochu

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We have mentioned shochu in various threads, but now it deserves its own! :biggrin:

Great article on the popularity of this liquor:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getart...l20040530x1.htm

"For years, many nihonshu brewers were trying to sell their shochu licenses," Tominaga said. "But no one wanted to buy them because the drink was so unpopular. Shochu had a strong image of being a cheap drink for lower-class people and alcoholics."

and now

It's not only its price and taste that's behind this trend.

"Shochu is actually good for your health," said Tojo, "and it's this health benefit that's had the biggest influence on the boom."


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Another excerpt from the article:

Meanwhile, the popularity of more rare brands have elevated them to cult status nationwide. In particular, the Mao, Moriizo and Murao brands -- nicknamed "Kagoshima no 3M" -- have become so scarce that people have begun to call them "maboroshi no shochu (phantom shochu)," and many shops will only sell them by lottery when they do manage to get hold of a case.

***

Here are some sites on Moriizo (森伊蔵):

http://www.jal.co.jp/en/inflight/topic/shochu_service.html

(English!)

Manufacturer of Moriizo:

http://www.moriizou.jp/index.htm

Rakuten (Internet shopping website):

http://ww21.tiki.ne.jp/~takeshima/cocktail/shop/shop2.html

(Obscenely expensive!!)

Are you intrigued?

As for me, I'm very satisfied with koh-rui shochu.

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As for me, I'm very satisfied with koh-rui shochu.

So is my husband! :biggrin:


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Shochu seems to be the Japanese pronunciation of Korean soju, or vice versa. Are there any notable differences between Japanese shochu and Korean soju?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I was introduced to soju many many years ago by Korean friends so when I came to Japan and heard about shochu, I assumed it was the Japnese version of the Korean liquor.

I actually have no idea of which one came first.....? :blink:

and I have never actually drunk either one.....? :blink:

I'll see what I can find out


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I've enjoyed some soju.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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found this:

While shochu has its roots in either China or Korea, probably having come across during trading, the traditional home of shochu in Japan is Kagoshima, on the island of Kyushu. In fact, the first usage of the term shochu appeared in graffiti written by a carpenter dated 1559 in a shrine in the city of Oguchi in Kagoshima.

The difference between soju and shochu

Korea also makes shochu, although it is called soju in Korean. And, Korean producers got to the US with it first. As such, in US legalese, the product is known as shochu. As far as I know, all Japanese shochu will be legally referred to as soju in the US. It is, in essence, the same thing. Judge it on its flavor, not its label.

from here:

http://www.sake-world.com/html/shochu-awamori.html


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Thanks, Kristin.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Speaking of the devil.... Just received a bottle of "Hamada Shuzoh" Japanese Traditional Shochu made from select sweet potatoes, from a Japanese chef friend who came to dinner last night. Unfortunately, that's all of the label I could read since the rest was in Japanese.

Kristin, since you seem to be the de facto expert, what if anything can you tell me about this? Is Shochu commonly made from sweet potato? Sort of Eastern vodka?

Certainly tasted much better. Went down very nicely. :wink:


Jay

You are what you eat.

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Jaypm51,

I really know nothing about shochu except for the fact that it is huge in Japan right now. :biggrin:

Ok but I do know that sweet potatoes seems to be one of the most popular things it is made from, I found this in the link I gave above:

Unlike many other beverages, shochu is made from one of several raw materials. These include sweet potato, and shochu made from these is called "imo-jochu." Other materials commonly used include from rice, soba (buckwheat), and barley. There is even one island where there a few places that make shochu from brown sugar. It can also be made from more obscure things like chestnuts and other grains.

And, each of these raw materials gives a very, very distinct flavor and aroma profile to the final sake. These profiles run the gamut from smooth and light (rice) to peaty, earthy and strong (potato). Indeed, each of these raw materials lends a unique flavor in much the same way that the peat and barley of each region in Scotland determine the character of the final scotch whiskey.

Hiroyuki ,

Thanks for the links! I liked the music that came with it. :biggrin:


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I really know nothing about shochu except for the fact that it is huge in Japan right now. :biggrin:

It is gaining popularity in the States too. It is becoming one of the hottest martini mixers of trendy bars with fancy pants, signature cocktails.


Edited by beans (log)

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Kris, Hiroyuki,

Thanks for the info and the links. Very informative. Will be visiting NYC this weekend and will see what's available. Still think gin will remain top of my list for martinis. :smile:


Jay

You are what you eat.

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While shochu has its roots in either China or Korea

There is another theory: Distillation technology was introduced into Japan from Thiland in the 14th century. But there are other theories as well, so we can never be sure which one is correct.

A great difference between Koreans and Japanese in terms of drinking shochu is that Koreans always drink it straight while Japanese often mix it with water (either hot or cold) or make it on the rocks. This is what I learned from one site. Can anybody tell me if this is true?

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Oh, No! I didn't realize there is no Korean Forum in eGullet. No Koreans in eGullet?

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It's lumped into the Elsewhere in Asia/Pacific forum. I suspect that one of these days, separate fora will be split off, but that is not currently under discussion.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Oh, thanks again, Pan. It's a shame... I simply thought that Korea was more advanced in IT technology than Japan. :sad::sad:

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It is gaining popularity in the States too.  It is becoming one of the hottest martini mixers of trendy bars with fancy pants, signature cocktails.

Yup. At the moment, I'm working on a book of cocktails from NY restaurants and lounges (well, that is, I should be working on it, but I'm here instead :rolleyes: ) and there's a recipe for a cocktail with cucumber, Licor 43, and shochu, among other ingredients. The author says shochu comes from Kyushu and the western part of Honshu, and might be made from barley, rice, sweet potatoes, or sugar cane. (The Korean soju I've had was from sweet potato.) He also mentions three brands available (online) here in the States: Takara Jun Shochu, Yokaichi Kome Shochu, and Yokaichi Mugi Shochu.

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A great difference between Koreans and Japanese in terms of drinking shochu is that Koreans always drink it straight while Japanese often mix it with water (either hot or cold) or make it on the rocks.  This is what I learned from one site.  Can anybody tell me if this is true?

I'm not an expert on soju by any means, but basically what that site says in correct. Soju is almost always taken straight, from small glasses that look more or less like shot glasses.

However, flavored sojus are quite common, that is, soju that has various herb, bark, root, etc. flavors added after the distillation process but prior to bottling. These are quite traditional but have recently been experiencing quite a boom in popularity.


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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I really know nothing about shochu except for the fact that it is huge in Japan right now. :biggrin:

It is gaining popularity in the States too. It is becoming one of the hottest martini mixers of trendy bars with fancy pants, signature cocktails.

I suspect that would be because it's cheap, but I don't know what it sells for.

Also, I would guess shochu distillers are taking a cue from vodka and liqeur people and building sales that way.


Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Sorry I haven't chimed in here yet. (The new baby excuse is going to grow old and worn quite soon, isn't it?)

In Korea, soju in not used in mixed drinks the way Japanese shochu seems to be here in Japan so frequently. Soju is basically a cheap, volume product. (In fact, Jinro, the largest producer of soju in Korea, is one of the largest alcoholic beverage companies in the world.) Depending on the outlet, a bottle of soju goes for between 2,000 and 3,000 won (most restaurants, groceries, and combini).

Other than the vermouth-like flavored beverages to which skchai refers, I can only think of a few other flavored or mixed-type soju concoctions.

(1) Oi-soju (ordinary soju poured into a dobin-like pot over julienned cucumber) is said to be softer in taste and reduce the chance of a hangover. I don't buy the hangover bit, but the treatment does seem toround out the taste a bit.

(2) O-ship seju is a combination of 1/2 ordinary soju and 1/2 baekseju. Baekseju is a (slightly) premium distilled beverage flavored with some bitter components and then sweetened. Baek seju costs approximately 5,000 - 6,000 won in most outlets. Baek seju is most popular among women, but some men also drink it. The name o-ship seju is a play on words. Baek means 100 in Korean and the idea is that baekseju is a long life drink. Ordinary soju adds no "years" so when teh two are mixed, you get o-ship seju or 50-year seju. The two beverages are often mixed together in a kettle or pitcher. If you are ever in a group and see this process begin, you have an immediate choice to make -- either run for your life or stay for the fun but plan on major paint he next day. The soju kettle never comes out unless serious drinking is planned.

The final comment I would make on soju is that it should not even be approached without a little bit to go along. The idea of soju (or maekju or any other alcoholic beverage) without a little anju is unimaginable.

Jim


Jim Jones

London, England

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

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Jim,

I wasn't sure how much a won was worth anymore, so I just checked and 1000won is less than $1?!

So is that bottle really only $2 to $3 ? What are those prices like compared to other types of alcohol in Korea?


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Jim,

I wasn't sure how much a won was worth anymore, so I just checked and 1000won is less than $1?!

So is that bottle really only $2 to $3 ? What are those prices like compared to other types of alcohol in Korea?

A bottle of soju contains exactly seven shots if you use the standard-sized sohu shot cups that most places provide. So...let's say 30 to 40 cents per shot. Soju is about half the strength of most western distilled spirits, so a soju shot is equal to something near half a serving in terms of the way most westerners think of a serving (glass of wine, beer, standard shot of liquor, etc.). That makes 60 to 80 cents per full serving.

Beer runs anywhere from 1,500 to more than 10,000 won, depending on location, brand, atmosphere, etc. Western spirits are significantly more expensive, especially if you want to drink them in a bar, rather than buy them from a package store.

The other "good value" drinks are things like makkoli and dong-dongju, both rice-based products of a milky color and slightly spritzy texture. Ordinary makkoli, bought at the convenience store/simple restaurant in recycled PET bottles, is only marginally more expensive than soju. More refined restaurant versions of makkoli or dong-dongju are served in ceramic pots and can be a bit more expensive (though still very reasonable).

Don't ask me what the exact difference between dong-dongju and makkoli is...not until next week. I going to Korea for three days on Monday and I'll ask my friends there.

Jim


Jim Jones

London, England

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

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Jim, what's anju? Also, my introduction to soju was in a Korean restaurant in New York where 5 men were drinking straight shots of soju. They gave me some, and I did likewise and liked it. It's better to mix it with some other drink? I found it smooth.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Jim, what's anju? Also, my introduction to soju was in a Korean restaurant in New York where 5 men were drinking straight shots of soju. They gave me some, and I did likewise and liked it. It's better to mix it with some other drink? I found it smooth.

Sorry to confuse. Anju simply means food to have along with "ju" or drinks.

I agree that soju is best consumed the way it comes from the bottle, from small shot glasses. It goes particularly well with many elements of Korean foods -- spiciness, carbonization from grilling, strongly flavored fermented bean products, garlic, etc.

Jim


Jim Jones

London, England

Never teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and frustrates the pig.

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