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What Is Shochu? 5 Bottles to Get You Started

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When talking about Japanese alcoholic beverages, most of us immediately think of sake. But it’s time to change that thought process, because the distilled spirit of Japanese shochu is worth your time. Though it lacks sake’s name recognition, shochu is becoming more widely available in some U.S. cities and is popping up at more bars and restaurants. It’s great news for anyone looking to expand their drinking horizons. 

What Is Shochu?  

Shochu is a distilled spirit that is mainly produced in Japan’s southern regions Kyushu and Okinawa. It has over 500 years of history and is considered Japan’s native spirit. Its common base ingredients include rice, barley, sweet potato, buckwheat or chestnuts. “Depending on which [base] ingredient is used, a shochu can be called barley shochu, rice shochu or potato shochu,” says Tetsuro Miyazaki, general manager of U.S. operations of Iichiko Shochu.  

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