Interview with Distilleries There are only 26 distilleries of Amami Kokuto Shochu in the world,
making this a selected group. We asked 4 distillers who are especially excited about introducing Amami Kokuto Shochu to the global audience; they talked to us about what makes their distillery special.

Stories of Kikai Island captured in the enticing aroma

Kokuto Shochu Asahi Distillery Co., Ltd.

Hiroyuki Kitei

A liquor’s first impression is substantially affected by its aroma because the olfactory senses kick in faster than the sense of taste. The scent can change the first impression, and we are very committed to the unique aroma of Amami Kokuto Shochu. Our other priority is how we can enable drinkers to experience Kikai Island, where our products are made. That is why we grow our sugarcane and use brown sugar made in Kikai Island. Further, Kikai Island is a raised coral reef island, with a robust supply of hard water rich in minerals. We want to message all the delights of Kikai Island, including the island-made Amami Kokuto Shochu, with the hopes that customers will not only enjoy Amami Kokuto Shochu but will also become interested in the environments of Kikai Island and the creators behind our brands. 

The difference in the aromas of Amami Kokuto Shochu and rum is the mixture of malted rice scent and brown sugar scent. Unlike rum that depends solely on sugarcanes, oils in rice drawn out by malted rice add to the aroma and the combination with the sweetness of brown sugar results in a deeper scent than rum. The surprising gap between the aroma first detected and the flavors that follow is certainly compelling. At Asahi Distillery, while we research koji and yeast, we are also fully engaged in developing new flavors and tastes.  We make the most of the Amami Kokuto Shochu characteristic of transforming flavors and tastes from the first pour from the outlet or hanadare to the main pour and the final fraction.

The hanadare of Amami Kokuto Shochu is very savory and delicious, but modest production volumes have made it a well-kept secret. We were able to bring out a new batch that had an exquisite hanadare aroma and a dynamic flavor. We decided to market it as a hanadare shochu, giving it the name Minami No Shima No Kifujin (The Noblewoman of the Southern Island). We wanted to capture the story of Kikai Island’s nature in this name. In Japanese, “The Noblewoman of the Southern Island” was originally the nickname given to a black-and-white colored butterfly with a wingspan of about 15 cm, the Idea leuconoe or tree nymph butterflies. Close your eyes and imagine: in Kikai Island, there is always a soft breeze, swaying the sugarcanes. Beyond them, the ocean is blue and the sandy beaches are bright. Here, tree nymph butterflies elegantly glide on the breeze, lured by the wonderful aroma of an Amami Kokuto Shochu hanadare – this is the scene and story we want our customers to see. Our Minami No Shima No Kifujin’s initial scent has a glamorous ester scent, followed by brown sugar aromas and fruit scents such as bananas. The oils add a wonderful mellowness to the flavor. It makes an excellent digestif, please try it as you would a grappa or marc. Another recommendation would be to freeze the entire bottle in your freezer and pour it on vanilla ice cream for a thick, indulgent dessert.

Our mission is to continue to create Amami Kokuto Shochu that has an enticing first impression with its aroma and tells the story of Kikai Island, for everyone in the world.


Minami No Shima No Kifujin  44% ABV

Atmospheric distillation (hanadare shochu), white koji

Hanadare shochu consists of only the first pours after distillation. Minami No Shima No Kifujin starts with a sumptuous scent that leads to aromas of brown sugar and fruits and ends with a velvety finish.