Have you ever heard of the Oktoberfest, a German beer festival?
Well..iIn Japan, there is also the October beer festival in April and August,though.
The drinking age is 20 years old.
Today I would like to introduce Japanese often drinks alcohol.
- Sake / Nihonshu(日本酒)
- Shochu (焼酎)
- Major types of shochu
- Chuhai / Sour (酎ハイ / サワー)
- Highball (ハイボール)
- Japanese Whisky (日本のウィスキー)
Sake / Nihonshu(日本酒)
Sake is the rice brewed wine as you know. Sake is also called “Nihonshu”.
It is made in a special way with rice and malt for sake.
There are several types of sake indeed.
Japanese monks are prohibited from drinking sake, but they drink it as a kind of medicine calls “Hannyatou (般若湯)” .
”Hannya” means “wisdom that leads to truth” “tou” means hot water.
So, they say that drinking Sake for medicine of leading to wisdom.
Although my uncle is the head priest of famous temple, says that beer is called “Bubble-hannya” and whiskey is called “Western-hannya” or “Brown – hannya” not Sake!😑
In every world, the clergy are the dirtiest.
However, according to the law, these are alcoholic beverages, not medicines, so you absolutely get caught for drunk driving.
In Japan, the fine for drunk driving is USD$10,000 per person. (If there are five people in the car, it will cost USD$10,000 each, totaling USD$50,000!）
This is not fine!?
“Doburoku” means unrefined Sake. This Sake that is home-brewed, called “Nigori” also.
In Japan, homemade sake is not allowed to be sold, but only in a place designated by the government, like a Shirakawa-go, is it allowed.
This Doburoku is Shirakawa-go.
Amazake has a low alcohol content, so children can drink it, and it is also sold as canned juice at station.
“Koshu (古酒)” means old sake. Sake that is more than one year old is called koshu. It has a unique taste, like a more sour and astringent taste of whiskey.
The preference is separated depend on one’ s taste…advanced sake drinkers seem to like it.
Although Sake is a brewed, Shochu is a distilled Sake. This is different from Sake, Shochu is made from various types of malted rice and ingredients.
Shochu is divided into “Kourui-type(甲類)” and “Otsurui-type(乙類)”. The distillation method is different. Kou-type is the common shochu sold in supermarkets. It is easy to drink and a good price. Otsu- kind is more peculiar, but you can enjoy the real shochu.
Although there are many different types of raw ingredients, the main types of koji used are black koji and white koji. (The koji used for sake is yellow koji.
“Kuro” means black. This koji has a lot of citric acid and prevents germs well. It makes a powerful and crisp shochu.
“Shiro” means white. This Shiro koji has a slightly yellowish-green color. It has a milder aroma and taste than the black koji, so it is an easy-to-drink shochu for Shochu beginners.
Hot shochu is usually heated in a teapot called “Joka(じょか)”.
How to drink Shochu
You have to pour Shochu into the glass first, then pour the hot water later.
I did not know this order, so that I poured opposite.
I was scolded by Kagoshima guy,
“Hey! you don’ have common sense, right?!“
I was very shock…😨
Basically, the cold one is on the rocks or with water.
Major types of shochu
These are the main 4types of shochu that are commonly drinking in Japan.
Another name is “Iki Shochu(壱岐焼酎)”.Iki is the old name of Nagasaki Prefecture. In fact, the most common production area is in the neighboring Oita Prefecture. It has a history of about 500 years.
I recommend this mugi shochu for shochu beginners. It’s good enough for the Kourui-type.
Imo means sweet potato. This is called “Satsuma shochu(薩摩焼酎)” also. Satsuma means an old name of Kagoshima prefecture.
“Moriizou(森伊蔵)”, “Maou(魔王)”, and “Murao(村尾)” are said to be the 3 major imo syochu and are hard to get. Especially the Moriizou costs 30 USD for a glass (not a bottle) at an izakaya, but I’ve never seen the real this one before. This shochu is one of the legend.
Imo shochu has a strong character, so I recommended to drink it on the rocks.
The sweet potatoes used for shochu is completely different from regular ones, is used “Koganesengan(黄金千貫)”, is white color.
Chuhai / Sour (酎ハイ / サワー)
Be careful because almost all this alcohol percentage is more than 10%😲
These are also sold at supermarket.
Whiskey with soda water. An American cocktail. In Japan, a highball called “Tris” is often drunk.
You can get them at supermarket easily. These are called “kan-chuuhai”
“Umeshu (梅酒)” means plum wine. June is the season of green plums.
Each family makes plum wine by soaking koorizatou and green plums in shochu.
This is like a juice and has a pleasant taste, so you can’t help but drink a lot of it…but You should be careful that Umeshu has too high alcohol percentage more than you think!
How to make Umeshu
Awamori is an Okinawan distilled rice liquor. It is said the taste is complex mellow…this is too “Unique” not to drink… sorry, I do not like it. This is used a teapot called “Karakara” to pour into a glass.
I don’t know this sake well.
The most famous beer makers in Japan are Yebisu, Kirin and Asahi.
Among them, Yebisu is especially popular with the British and Germans.
Of course, Heineken, Budweiser, Corona and Guinness are also very popular.
The most popular foreign beer in Japan is not from Germany or Czech, but from Belgium.
French wine is the most special, of course. We drink this wine in fine restaurants or Sushi restaurants or special day only.
We often drink Italian, Australia and Chili wine in Izakaya.
Australia, Chile and California’s are popular these days.
katsunuma wine (勝沼)
If you would like to drink Japanese wine, I recommend you “Katsunuma (勝沼)” city’s one.
This wine is better than the others in Japan.
Japanese whiskey was first brewed in the 1870s, using Scotch whiskey as a model.
However, the smoky flavors characteristic of Scotch whisky are changed to suit for Japanese people, making it light crispy.
One of the characteristics of Japanese whiskey is the use of Quercus serrata as the material for the barrels used to age the raw spirit.
Yoichi (余市), Hokkaido was the first place where whiskey was made.
There are currently approx. 30 whiskey breweries in Japan.
Taketsuru (竹鶴) is here.
Cocktails, beer, rum and gin, are also popular. But we do not drink these so much.
When you go to Japan, you must try sake and whiskey.
You can find them in supermarkets. You will be surprised but they are not expensive but good quality🥰