The oldest distilled liquour in Japan
It is said that Awamori is the roots of shochu. It is a pot still distillation made by fermenting Thai rice (Indica rice) with water and yeast. The manufacturing method has been ancient times.
What is the taste of Awamori?
Awamori is a spirit with a strong aroma and richness. The appeal of Awamori comes from 100% natural brewed distillation without the addition of alcohol or additives. It is colorless and transparent, and the favor of rice is alive. The more it is laid down, the more mellow the taste and aroma are released as it ages.
The key is "Black Jinqu" ( fungus / Mold)
"Black Jinqu" produces a lot of citric acid, which has strong bactericidal activity. It is ideal for making sake in Okinawa, where it is hot and humid and bacteria are likely to increase.
The reason for using Thai rice (Indica rice) instead of Japanese rice is that it is easy for black aspergillus to grow hyphae (it is easy to make rice jiuqu) because it is hard and silky. Ingredients mature due to long-term storage, the taste is mellow and the fragrance becomes high.
Old Awamori which called Kusu.
Kusu is Awamori which has has been stored for more than 3 years. By leaving it in a jar or a bottle and "laying it down", the scent and the taste will be mellow. There are 150 year old Awamori in existence. When it is less than three years old, it is usually distributed as "general spirit". Nowadays, there are many products that specify the number of years in the barrel in the product name, such as 3 years, 5 years, and 7 years. Only Awamori that has been aged for more than 3 years can use “Kusu” label.
Difference between Awamori and Shochu?
The raw materials for shochu are rice, wheat, and potatoes, but for awamori it is rice only. Most Awamori products use Thai rice because it is more compatible. White Jiuqu is often used for shochu, but Awamori uses black Jiuqu, which is resistant to heat. Raw materials are selected according to the nature of awamori and the climate of the land where it is made. For general shochu distillation, the first preparation in which rice or barley jiuqu is made then water and yeast are added to ferment it. The next preparation is to add the main ingredients such as wheat, rice, and potatoes and ferment again. In case of Awamori, all the rice is made into rice jiuqu, and water and yeast are added to ferment it, but no secondary preparation is performed.
Awamori Distillery on Kume island
There are two awamori distilleries, which are Kumejima no Kumesen and Yoneshima Shuzo, on Kume island. Each has a shop where you can buy your favourite awamori. Some awamori may only be available on the island. For touring the distillery, please confirm directly with the company in advance.
Kumejima no Kumesen
Hermit's Awamori distilled in the spring water at the foot of Mt. Uegusuku. There was a story that a beautiful woman appeared at dusk in the Doga area, the northern part of Kume Island, where the spring water comes from. She served Awamori to young people on their way home from work. People said this should be a spiritual test from "Kume's Sennin, which is Hermit" who lived on the Uegusuku Mountain. Based on this story, "Kumejima no Kumesen" makes Awamori with the modern Holy Spirit in mind. Natural spring water from the foot of Mt. Uegusuku is used for preparation. While handling koji and moromi by hand, quality is thoroughly controlled using modern equipment. Its taste has gained widespread acclaim in the mainland of Japan and in Okinawa.
Yoneshima distillery has maintained a handmade manufacturing method by their families from its founding from 1948 to the present for four generations. The water from the Shirase River, where Kumejima firefries live, is used for distillation. With the care for changes of the raw materials with temperature and humidity, fine adjustment is made the care of the jiuqu and the hardness of the water. Young Awamori is blended with other Awamori of dierent maturity to adjust the taste. Previously Awamori was made with a stronger sweetness, which was popular outside the island , but the local people said, "This taste doesn't go well with sashimi. " Since then, they have been cherishing the local feedback and trying to make it that suits the island's diet without changing the taste. Their Awamori is loved as the pride of Kume Island.
How to enjoy Awamori ?
On the rocks
Pour awamori into a cold short glass with ice
With water or soda
If the alcohol content is 30 degrees, add 3 parts of awamori to 7 parts of water
With hot water
The aroma and taste will change depending on the temperature of the hot water and the order
Add mint leaves, gum syrup and lemon juice to a glass. then, put ice and pour awamori with soda!
Add ice to a glass and squeeze the lime juice into it. Pour awamori and tonic water in the ratio you like!
With milk or coffee
Some People in Okinawa enjoy Awamori with milk or coffee! Please try !