Expert tips to enjoy shochu

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Relish the world of shochu!

Let’s ask an expert for fun, delicious ways to enjoy shochu, flavor profiles useful for selecting a label, and food that complements shochu.

  • Expert tips to enjoy shochu
  • Discover your favorite shochu
  • Shochu and
    food pairing

Shochu, with a history of 500 years, is a rare distilled spirit best taken during meals. The versatile drink can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks, diluted with hot or cold water, mixed with soda, or heated to adjust the alcohol level. Producing regions often have traditional utensils and serving styles, which are also fun to try. In Kagoshima, for instance, shochu and water are served in a ceramic kettle called kurojoka for warming at the table. In Kumamoto, straight heated shochu is poured from a gara decanter into a choku cup. Tokyo Shimazake, whether Imo (sweet potato) Shochu or Mugi (barley) Shochu, comes in diverse textures from light to heavy, and can be enjoyed widely by both novices and connoisseurs. One way to select a variety is to choose a label you like, as all are colorful and stylish. Island delicacies such as the ashitaba plant, kusaya (dried, fermented) fish, and whitefish sashimi dipped in chili-flavored soy sauce provide the perfect complement. At the end of the meal, try shochu as a digestif. Cask-aged shochu pairs well with desserts like chocolate, yokan (jellied azuki bean paste), nuts, and ice cream. Following a greasy meal, straight shochu even cleanses the stomach.

A fun way to taste shochu is to try the traditional utensils and serving style
of the producing region.

Akiko Tomoda

Adviser for this section

Akiko Tomoda is a total liquor consultant, or specialist in the pairing of food with liquor including wine, sake, shochu, beer, and cocktails. Drawing on her 25-year-long career and feminine sensibility, she plans and organizes public seminars and events, and provides consulting in wining and dining. Tomoda is a sommelier, sake sommelier, shochu sommelier, Fukui Prefecture food ambassador, and Kuma Shochu ambassador.