Shochu: the way to drink and taste it!/ Parlons de la dégustation du SHOCHU

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I’ve been asked a few times already about shochu and how to drink it.
Shochu is distilled spirit as opposed to Japanese sake which is a fremented drink.
Like Japanese sake, shochu, if made in proper clean environment is an alcohol that both vegans and vegetarians can enjoy!
For extensive information on Shochu made in Shizuoka Prefecture (38 found so far by 10 breweries!), check Shizuoka Shochu!

If you use shochu simply as an additive, or to quickly reach an irresponsible inebriety, just skip reading the following!

-Shochu comes in four main varieties: imo/tubers, mugi/wheat-grain, kome/rice and finally in what I call “fancy shochu” (which is not a detrimental term at all!).
The latter includes green tea (the best is from Shizuoka Prefecture), buckwheat and what else.

-So, first decide on the variety. As far as quality is concerned, shochu in Shizuoka Prefecture is only produced by Sake Brewers, which means higher quality and dependability.
-Once you have chosen your baby, first pour a tiny bit inside a normal glass, turn it around until the bouquet (smell) reaches your nostrils (smokers, get out of here!). Taste it at room temperature. It will give you a kick, but you will learn its true character.
-Next, if you are a true shochu lover, fill a large glass with ice (one very large block is best), pour a reasonable quantity of shochu on it, and drink it slowly through (or around) the ice. As the ice slowly melts, the shochu taste will subtly change, giving you an indication, whether you want to drink it straight, on the rocks, or with a certain amount of ice and water, or added with warm water.
-After all, you are in Shizuoka, so why don’t you try the “Shizuoka Hai”. Pour hot or ice-cold Shizuoka green tea, or better, mixed with powdered “macha” tea. You might get hooked!
-The other step is to find what goes best with shochu (as regards your personal taste): ginger ale, oolong tea, soda,… There is no end to it!



Cela fait plusieurs fois que l’mon demande comment boire le shochu, qui est un alcool distillé, contrairement au saké qui lui est fermenté. Tout comme le saké, que l’on appelle plutôt nihonshu, le shochu a bien des qualités, et y compris celles du respect de l’environnement. Jetez un oeil à notre autre blog ici pour plus d’informations (en anglais) sur les variétés de Shizuoka: Shizuoka Shochu! A Shizuoka on a pour l’instant selon mes comptes 38 variétés pour 10 distilleries.

Si vous vous servez du shochu pour cuisiner ou pour vous faire tourner la tête vous pouvez éviter de lire les paragraphes qui suivent !

On a principalement 4 variétés de shochu : Patates/tubercules, blé (mugi), riz (kome) et ensuite ce qu’on pourrait appeler les shochu fantaisie (avec tout le respect et la considération que j’ai pour eux néanmoins ! )

Je pense qu’il faut déjà penser à la variété. Bien que la qualité soit un facteur tout autant essentiel, dans Shizuoka tous les shochus sont fabriqués avec conscience par les distilleries de saké, donc très fiables.

Quand vous aurez choisi votre petit bébé, mettez-le dans un verre et faites le tourner jusqu’à ce que l’odeur pénètre vos narines (évitons de fumer en même temps). Dégustez-le à température ambiante si vous voulez bien faire connaissance avec lui, même si cela devrait vous mettre un coup de fouet.

Si vous êtes un vrai amateur de shochu, remplissez un verre avec de la glace, un gros glaçon est l’idéal, mettez une quantité “raisonnable” de shochu à l’intérieur et buvez-le ainsi. Avec la fonte du glaçon, le goût du shochu se verra aussi modifié ce qui devrait vous donner aussi plus d’informations sur la manière idéale de le déguster (mélange d’eau, plus de glaçons, avec de l’eau chaude, de l’eau pétillante)…

Après tout si vous êtes à Shizuoka, n’hésite pas le Shizuoka Hai, à base d’eau chaude ou froid et de thé vert de Shizuoka ou encore mieux avec du Macha ! Vous pourriez vous laisser prendre 🙂

Enfin il existe plein de manières d’agrémenter son Shochu : Gingembre, thé oolong, soda etc… !

44 thoughts on “Shochu: the way to drink and taste it!/ Parlons de la dégustation du SHOCHU”

  1. Have you tried Awamori??

    It is a kind of Shochu from Kyusyu and Okinawa. It is stronger than regular shochu. It is delicious….

    Shochu and Awamori are great to drink, also great for cooking too!! You can add a little bit of shocu or awamori to Kakuni (slow cooked pork) and it will bring add flavor to it.




  2. Thanks R-G, I will try at our local Wine & Spirts store to see if they carry Shochu and will report back. Any sushi that goes well with it?


    1. Dear Peter!
      Sushi goes well with shochu, but in that case you had better mix it with some water and ice as it is strong (25 degrees proof!)


  3. Very informative post. As you can imagine in Hawaii sake drinking has always been the norm, so it just makes sense that shochu would be as popular as it is here. Unfortunately there is not a lot of “education” regarding its history, content, handling, pairing and just plain enjoying! The island style is “kampai” and everyone just slams it down..only to lose the rest of the evening in a shochu induced sleep! Now I have something to teach my family! domo arigato!


  4. I had shochu my first night in Japan, how is that for an intro. Loved it, but had not enjoyed it for a long time, until I went out to dinner in SF Japantown and rediscovered my friend. Thanks for reminding me.


  5. You are so right… although I can’t remember what was added or mixed with the shochu… Oh yeah, I remember it was called Chu Hi’s! Do you know the mix? I was introduced to it when I was living in Atami, dancing hula at the Atami Korakuen Hotel. We were a Hawaiian group (5 of us) that did a Polynesian Show at the hotel. Great times!


  6. Ohhhh Shochu, this was one of my favorite drinks when I was living in Japan. There was many a nights that I enjoyed tooo much and had a major hang over the next day! Ahh the memories!


    1. Dear Misty!
      I have the suspicion you mixed it with too many things! LOL
      Shochu, by itself, if of high quality, shouldn’t end in a hangover!
      Take good cae of yourself!


  7. I really admire the variety in janapese drinks. Unfortunately, I just try to imagine how shochu tastes, but that’s not the same with having a nip of it.
    and thank you for this informative post. so Japanese do not eat just rice, or drink just sake.
    Like your website.


  8. Thanks Robert,
    There is a restaurant right down the street from my house that serves lots of Shocho Drinks and I never have tried them and usually stuck with Sake because they have really great selection. I will make sure I do next time.


  9. Hi Robert, I have not tried this but I had many years ago what I believed to be a Japanese liquor that was purple in color and remember it to have been called Ocha. Are you aware of such a liquor? It was at the time my very favorite. Not only taste like a beautiful blossom, but was a beautiful color.



    1. Dear Rose!
      Ocha means “tea”. They do make shochu with tea (quite strong, 25 degrees proof), but what you had is probably a fancy liqueur.


  10. Thanks for the advice on shochu. I’ve never had the pleasure of trying it out, but hopefully that will change, someday. It has to be stocked around here somewhere…


  11. Robert! Gomen-yo! Desole! I just can’t do the shochu! I have got to get you turned on to some of Kentucky’s finest bourbon!

    What’s to say we don’t try to get together sometime after the new year? I’m going back to the homeland for Christmas, then I’d love to get a tour of some great food and drink in your neck of the woods!!!


    1. Dear Daniel!
      No worries!
      Sure, let’ meet some time end of of January in Shizuoka!
      What about a Sunday lunch time to leave you plenty of time for you trip back home?
      Cheers and great holidays!


  12. Hi! Love the post. I’m a huge fan of Shochu, discovering it during a brief stint living and working in Japan in 2007.

    Now that I live in D.C., I find that most Japanese restaurants don’t have it on the drinks list, but DO actually carry it…you just have to ask! So, if you’re out at a japanese restaurant in the states, just ask them what kind of shochu they have.

    Matt, I find it works well as an aperitif, and goes quite well with tempura.


    1. Dear Matt!
      As shochu is usually drunk with water, it does equally well with light and heavy food, winter or summer.
      I personally like it in summer with lots of ice with “light-heavy” food like grilled chicken and any salads!
      Great as an aperitif, too!


  13. I have made another comment on the eel post mentioning how nice your blog is!

    So if sake is the Japanese wine shochu is the Japanese whiskey. I am more a fermented drinks type of girl. I used to buy some pretty good Japanese sake in Brasil to make strawberry caipirinhas. Girl stuff, sake and strawberries, but is delicious.




    1. Dear Claudia!
      Thank you again for visiting and commenting!
      Actually there is super micro-brewey beer and plenty of liqueurs, too!
      Have a hard time not falling to temptations!


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