What the Experts Say We asked three experts to tell us their views on Amami Kokuto Shochu: a well-known Chef-Sommelier and "Sake Samurai" from Paris, a Honkaku Shochu evangelist who is spreading the word globally, and a mixologist who creates next-generation cocktails.

Shuzo Nagumo is a gifted mixologist who creates breakthrough cocktails
which shine a light on Honkaku Shochu

After his training in Europe, mixologist Shuzo Nagumo has been creating ingenious cocktails under the theme: Elevating all foods to cocktails. He was one of the first to see the potential that shochu has as a cocktail base. To familiarize himself with Amami Kokuto Shochu, he traveled to the islands to interview those in the Amami Kokuto Shochu business, observe the production process and developed a bond with distillers. He is also the CEO of Spirits&Sharing Inc.
See videos and recipes of his Amami Kokuto Shochu
cocktails in the Pairing and Cocktails section

Amami Kokuto Shochu’s Global Potential

The combination of the ingredients rice malt and brown sugar is very precious

“Amami Kokuto Shochu is often compared to rum because they are both made from sugar canes. The difference between rums—rum pinga or cachaça has a clean taste, while matured dark rums are heavier–and Amami Kokuto Shochu is primarily due to rice malt, making it very different from rums. Rice malt helps maintain the one-of-a-kind sweetness derived from rice, and the role of rice malt is true across all Honkaku Shochus. Amami Kokuto Shochu goes one step further: brown sugar adds the flavor and aroma of sugar canes to those of rice malt, drawing out intricate characteristics.”

The distinctiveness of having rice malt-based oils work to add umami

“When producing distilled liquors other than Honkaku Shochu, generally oil contents are considered to be impurities that cause oxidization and are removed. Distillation is repeated to eliminate the source of rough edges and bitterness. Many major rum companies have filtration systems that remove all flavors except for a hint of sugar canes. However, kokuto shochu which is a type of Honkaku Shochu retains oils to amplify the umami flavor.”

New horizons from the search of ingredients

“Just like we are seeing whiskey brands recently pursuing possibilities with new varieties of barley, I’m sure there are new horizons for Amami Kokuto Shochu. For instance, cultivating new varieties of sugar canes to source brown sugar, developing new techniques to refine the brown sugar, and so on will broaden the spectrum of Amami Kokuto Shochu flavors even further. I am excited about the next adventures of the distilleries.”