Try Shōchū

The Japanese Import

Shōchū is an alcoholic beverage of Japan, most commonly distilled from barley, sweet potato or rice. Typically it is 25% alcohol by volume, making it weaker than whisky, but stronger than wine and sake.

Shōchū should not be confused with sake, a brewed rice wine. Its taste is usually far less fruity and depends strongly on the nature of the starch used in the distilling process. Its flavour is often described as "nutty" or "earthy".

Shōchū is drunk in many ways according to season or personal taste but is most commonly drunk:

  • straight
  • on the rocks (i.e. mixed with ice)
  • diluted with water
  • diluted with hot water
  • mixed with oolong tea or fruit juice

Shōchū recently became the focus of a consumer boom, and in 2003 shipments within Japan surpassed those of sake for the first time.

There are several reasons for shōchū's recent popularity. With increasing health-consciousness, many people see it as 'more healthy' than some alternatives. Shōchū is a low-calorie drink whose few calories are converted to heat by the body and emitted. There have been well publicised claims of medical benefits, including that it can be effective in preventing thrombosis, heart attacks, and diabetes. It is also a versatile drink that is suited to most styles of cuisine.

shōchū has become better known as a result of one man who consumed it regularly. Shigechiyo Izumi, a Japanese citizen who up until recently held the world record for longest life span (120 years), made shōchū part of his daily dietary regimen. This fact was mentioned along with his record in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Because of his intimate passion for shōchū, many have speculated that shōchū is healthy and can actually promote longevity.

Despite these claims, Izumi's personal physician strongly advised against drinking shōchū, as his kidneys were not strong enough to process shōchū in his advanced age. But Izumi went on to say, "Without shōchū there would be no pleasure in life. I would rather die than give up drinking."

We now have ten different types of shōchū available and any unused bottles purchased can be taken away or stored for your next visit to Etsu.

  • Jun Shōchū
  • Iichiko Silhouette
  • Shiranami
  • Soba Shōchū Unkai
  • Kiccho Unkai Soba Shōchū
  • Kan-Noko
  • Koji Awamori Shōchū
  • Kurokame
  • Ikkokumono Imo Shōchū
  • Imochochu Junkii