Distilling the Essence of the Tsukushi Plain (Tuesday, January 1st, 2013)
It’s common knowledge that barley shochu is lighter than sweet potato shochu, and that it has less body. Nishiyoshida Syuzou, a 120-year old shochu distillery in Fukuoka Prefecture, changed this notion by introducing their full flavored, nutty Tsukushi barley shochu series to the U.S. market.
With the belief that making shochu is like making smiles and with the goal of contributing to society by producing honkaku shochu (premium shochu), Nishiyoshida has strived to develop new technology while still improving the traditional craftsmanship since its establishment in 1890. Rooted in the local area of the Tsukushi Plain and using local water and produce, the brewery brings genuine Fukuoka flavor.
4 shochus became available in the U.S. earlier this year, all of which go well with Japanese and Western food due to their flavorfulness. Tsukushi Shiro is the lightest among the four. Shochu made with wheat and black koji is blended with 5-year aged, unprocessed shochu to produce a hint of sweetness with a clean finish. Tsukushi Kuro is also made with wheat and black koji blended with a 5-year aged, unprocessed shochu blend, but it is different in that it employs a traditional atmospheric distilling process, giving it a deeper and richer flavor. Kintaro, which is currently the most popular among Americans, is made from roasted barley. Nutty, powerful and aromatic, this shochu pairs very well with grilled and deep-fried dishes. ARK Jakuunbaku is unfiltered, which requires a high-level of skill to produce. Made with barley and black koji in an atmospheric distillation process, this shochu boasts a profound taste.
“Koji is an important element of Japan’s food culture, used in shoyu, sake and of course shochu. I would like to promote this established koji culture to the world,” says Mr. Motohiko Yoshida, executive director of Nishiyoshida Syuzou. Since single distilled honkaku shochu really retains the flavor of its base ingredients, it goes well with both Japanese and Western cuisines. Also, shochu is low in calories so it is a healthy drink. Offering versatile drinking styles, honkaku shochu such as the Tsukushi series is the drink of today.
3 things you should know about Nishiyoshida Syuzou
Water: To brew their shochu, Nishiyoshida Syuzou uses the undercurrent from the pristine water of the Hanamune River, a branch of the Chikugo River which is the second largest river in Japan. The mineral components and water quality vary depending on the boring points located in the brewery’s lot, and the different types of water makes it easy to control the flavors of the shochu.
Brewers: The brewery has focused on shochu making for over 120 years, and from the very beginning of the company’s long history they have enthusiastically educated and trained in-house brewers and brewmasters. Currently about 10 brewing specialists strive to produce premium shochu.
Local soil: The Tsukushi Plain offers an abundance of natural resources, not only water but also the produce that is necessary to distill shochu. Nishiyoshida Syuzou maximizes these local resources, and makes efforts to develop original varietals in collaboration with local farmers and organizations.