Inoue Shuzo was established in 1893 in the Oita Prefecture of Kyushu Island. The 6th generation of the Inoue family is now at the helm, and a total of 10 kura-bito craft all their offerings. Although they also produce sake, they are most famous for their barley shochu. Oita is famous for their rejuvenating hot springs, and it is from this mineral water that Inoue Shuzo crafts its delicate shochu. The water begins as snow melt atop Mt. Hikosan and slowly filters through layers of volcanic rock before eventually reaching the well at Inoue Shuzo. In 2001, Inoue Shuzo completed their “Shochu Dojo”, a small facility adjacent to their main production house that produces small batches of shochu in the ancient, traditional, and hands-on approach.
Shochu is the national spirit of Japan. It can be made with many different raw ingredients, but barley, sweet potato, and wheat are most common. Often koji mold and sake lees are used during the fermentation stage to break apart starch chains in the base carbohydrate (potato or barley, for example). Three types of koji are most commonly used and they include black, white and yellow koji. Each reveals a different flavor profile in the end product.
Shochu tends to be about half the alcohol strength of most distilled spirits. Generally it is distilled completely dry. Enjoy it over ice, with hot water, infused with fruit, or simply on its own.
Aka Oni Shochu