Innovative Spirits Grow Local Blessings (Saturday, January 1st, 2011)
Amami Oshima Kaiun Brewing Corp.
On a small, tropical island off the southern coast of mainland Japan, a unique brown sugar shochu is made. Appropriately named “Lento,” a musical term meaning slow and relaxed, this shochu undergoes a special aging process known as “onkyo jukusei” (aging with sound). For three months, as the alcohol matures in storage tanks, classical music is transmitted by speakers into these tanks. The vibrations from the classical music are thought to organize the alcohol and water molecules into clusters, and to bring out the relaxed and mellow flavor.
Amami Oshima Kaiun Brewing Corp. began producing Lento In 1996. At that time, brown sugar shochu was not commercially successful and was enjoyed mainly by older people in rural areas. A group of young people comprised of mostly women and shochu novices, set out to make a new brown sugar shochu with wider appeal that still preserved the region’s traditional methods. What they had in mind was, “A brown sugar shochu that women want to drink.” Via thorough marketing and research they introduced the aging with sound process as well as a stylish slender blue bottle, and Lento was born.
While the aging with sound process was initially seen as unorthodox, Lento’s relaxed, mellow flavor quickly spread, and now it is one of the top-selling brown sugar shochus in Japan. Lento boasts a refreshing aroma, clean flavor and smooth feel. It is best enjoyed as mizuwari (cut with cold water) or on the rocks. It can accompany any kind of dish from light to full-bodied, and complements the flavors while refreshing the palate.
Amami Oshima Kaiun Brewing Corp. not only makes shochu, but is quite enthusiastic about research and development. In collaboration with other organizations and institutions, it has been developing products by taking advantage of its shochu making knowledge and technology. Some examples include cosmetics that have a whitening effect, vinegars full of anti-oxidants, and liqueurs made from Amami’s local fruits. Receiving numerous requests from all over the country for co-research & development, Amami Oshima Kaiun Brewing Corp. is now becoming the center of the shochu producing community.
Amami Oshima Kaiun Brewing Corp.
2924-2 Yuwan, Uken-son, Ooshimagun, Kagoshima,
Three things you should know about Amami Oshima Kaiun Brewing Corp.
1. Amami Oshima Kaiun Brewing Corp. started producing shochu in 1996 as the 27th shochu distiller in Amami Oshima Island. Its major item, Lento, is a brown sugar shochu that was developed by female staff members, and it has a clean flavor that even female consumers love to enjoy. Thanks to the fact that it goes well with various cuisines, Lento’s sales have constantly increased and the brewery became the number one shochu distiller in gross sales a decade after it started to make shochu.
2. During the shochu boom from the early to mid 2000s, the brewery had much nationwide demand. However, they believed that it is important to focus on their local customers and prioritized local markets more than others. The brewery has produced shochu and other products unique to Amami Oshima that are rooted in the island and grown hand in hand with local people.
3. The brewery takes pride in its high level of research and development. Currently it has numerous projects in collaboration with governmental organizations, academic institutions and communities. Most notably, it has a project with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry which makes use of the byproducts of shochu production. In addition, the brewery has developed cosmetics, vinegar, and liqueurs.