​How We Make Kokuto Shochu

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Steaming
the Rice

We first team the rice in an automated machine called a drum, otherwise known as a seikiku-ki (meaning rice koji maker)

 

Once ready, the rice is inoculated with koji spores to promote the growth of koji-kin—a form of mold—and sits in the drum under strict temperature control for about 24-hours.

 

We use white koji to produce most of our products. 

 

Making the Koji

After a day spent in the drum, the koji (rice koji) is transferred 

to a traditional sankaku-dana bed, where it will remain for another 24-hours to further promote the growth of koji-kin.

 

Here, the majority of the work is done by hand to integrate essential human touch—in turn, the manual labor provides the koji with characteristics that only people can provide.   

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​First Mash

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After two days of preparation in the drum and sankaku-dana, the koji is transferred to our earthen pots for first-stage mashing.

The first mash, known as ichiji moromi, is comprised of koji, yeast, and water and ferments in the pots for approximately five days. 

Melting the
Kokuto

Before adding the kokuto sugar to the mash, the solid blocks are melted into a thick syrup and cooled.  

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Second Mash

Distilling

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After three weeks of fermenting, the mash is now ready to be distilled and is transferred to the still for distillation.

We use a atmospheric, single-distillation pot still to conduct our work—a device that delivers a spirit brimming with innate goodness derived from the key ingredients (namely, kokuto sugar, koji, and yeast). 

 

Through distillation, we achieve a purified alcohol averaging about 44% ABV.

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Second Mash

After the kokuto sugar has cooled subsequent to melting, it is transferred to second-stage mashing tanks with the ichiji moromi (the first mash comprising of koji, yeast, and water).

 

The combined mix now forms the second mash—or niji moromi as it is called in Japanese—and sits in the tanks to ferment for approximately two weeks. 

After fermentation has run its course, the mash exhibits an ABV of about 15%.

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Aging

Subsequent to distilling our shochu, the distillate is sent to a prescribed holding vessel for aging. We use both tanks and barrels to age our products at the distillery. 

Enamel tanks allow the liquor to mellow and smooth over time, removing harshness and bite present post distillation. Kokuto shochu aged in tanks is what one may consider a traditional flavor.

Barrels add a completely new dynamic to kokuto shochu, complexity, spice, and sweet vanillas found in the wood. On par with fine rums and whiskeys, but offering uniqueness and character of its own. 

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Bottling

Once our liquor has spent it's prescribed time aging in a tank or barrel, it is prepared for bottling.

 

This is where our product is blended with water to achieve the right ABV for bottling—a process known as chogo.

It is now ready to be bottled and packaged for the market.

We hope to see you there.

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NISHIHIRA DISTILLERY

11-21 KOMATA-CHO, NAZE,

AMAMI, KAGOSHIMA 894-0012, JAPAN

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*The legal drinking age in Japan is 20 years. ​*Drink driving is illegal.

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