The Kuma Shochu ~The origin of authentic shochu~
HOW TO DRINK & ENJOY

How to Drink & Enjoy Kuma Shochu

[Straight]

Savor the essence of Shochu aroma

Nothing is added to Shochu. Sip a small amount of Shochu and enjoy the taste slowly. Ideal to appreciate the maximum flavor of ingredients.

[On the Rocks]

Refreshing taste and clean mouth feel

Place ice in a glass and pour Shochu into the glass slowly. Shochu becomes milder and refreshing. Any type of Shochu tastes good on the rocks.

[Shochu & Water]

Customize the flavor intensity of Shochu with water

Pour water (ideally soft water) into a glass, and add Shochu. Adjust the ratio of water and Shochu to your palate. Be careful not to dilute Shochu too much.

[Shochu & Hot Water]

The key is to pour the hot water first. The most popular way in the Kuma Hitoyoshi region

Pour hot water into a cup, then add Shochu. Adjust the ratio of hot water and Shochu to your palate. Be careful not to make the final blend too hot.

[Hot Shochu/ („Kan‟ Shochu)]

Savor the nose of the evaporating aroma and soft mouth feel

Put straight Shochu or Shochu & water in a vessel, and warm it in hot water („Netsu-kan‟) or over direct heat („Jiki-kan‟). The composition of Shochu stays intact, and you can enjoy its sweetness and soft mouth feel. Be careful not to overheat Shochu so that its aroma and flavors do not disappear.

[„Kan‟ the Rocks]

A style of a new generation

Pour „Kan‟ (hot) Shochu onto ice. You can enjoy the refreshing taste on the rocks, without reducing the sweetness and soft mouth feel of Kan Shochu. It is a perfect way to savor Kuma Shochu.

[Cool Shot]

Relish Shochu as a dessert

Chill Shochu in a freezer. The moment you pour it into a cocktail glass, it turns into a sorbet. You can enjoy it as is, or drizzle some syrup.

Kuma Shochu creates a great base for a cocktail as well. It makes unique cocktails different from gin-or vodka-based drinks. Enjoy!

FOOD

Tasty shochu complements delicious food

The rice-based Kuma shochu makes a good match with meals and complements any cuisine; Japanese, Western, or Chinese.

Enjoy shochu with your meal as well as an aperitif in any way you desire; diluted with hot water, neat, on the rocks and so on. It complements delicious food. Shochu is said to increases enzymes which dissolve blood clots. Therefore it is tasty and can provide health benefits.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE

How would you like to drink your shochu?

Straight

On the rocks

Shochu and water
(Mizuwari)

Shochu and hot water
(Oyuwari)

Hot shochu
(Atsukan・Jikikan)

Hot shochu on the rocks
(Kan the rocks)

Freezing shochu
(Cook shot)

As a cocktail base

 

HOW TO ENJOYCUP(CUP)

Kuma Shochu Cup and Vessel („Gala‟ & „Choku‟)

The “Mecca” of Kuma Shochu (the distilled rice spirit) is the Kuma Region which surrounds Hitoyoshi City in Kumamoto Prefecture. In the Kuma region, the customary way of drinking this intense and strong beverage with 35-40% alcohol is to pour it into a „Gala‟ that look like a flask with a long spout, then is heated on a stove top and served.
Kuma Shochu cups („Choku‟) are smaller than sake cups, and the opening is not very wide. Since Shochu used to be served in a wooden box that held „2 Go 5 Shaku‟ in the ancient measurement (15.25 oz), the „Gala‟ was designed to contain the same amount. It is large enough to add some hot water to adjust the intensity of Shochu. The preferred material for the „Gala‟ and „Choku‟ is white porcelain made in the famous Arita Region (in the neighboring prefecture Saga.) Arita produces make them only to meet the demand from the Kuma Region. Therefore, the „Gala‟ and „Choku‟ are found only in the Kuma Hitoyoshi region. The size of the „Choku‟ cup is small in order to soften the sharp aroma of heated Shochu on your nose. The slim spout of the „Gala‟ makes it easy to pour Shochu into the tiny „Choku‟. Since the „Gala‟ is made of porcelain, it does not break on direct heat and convenient to warm up the Shochu within it. There is another shape of Kuma Shochu cup called „Solagyu‟. It has a pointed bottom similar to a top, and if you put it on a table, it will tilt. In other words, you have to finish the cup in order to put it on a table. The shape of Solagyu reflects the alcohol-loving culture and history of Kuma Hitoyoshi region. The name Solagyu comes from a typical social exchange by locals. The host serves Shochu to a guest, saying “Here you go” (“Sola”), and the guest drink it up (the gesture is described as “Gyu” in Japanese.)

The Custom of Shochu Tasting in the Kuma Hitoyoshi Region.

Before drinking the first cup of Shochu of the evening, people in the Kuma Hitoyoshi region used to drip one drop of Shochu on different areas of the house depending on where they are. The edge of the fireplace in the living room, or the decorative alcove in the dining room, or somewhere near a guests‟ seat at a garden party.
This custom came from the idea of leaving a drop of Shochu for the local god, and then the leftover to be shared by the people.