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.

The quest for the finest malted rice

Yayoi Shochu Brewery LPC

Hiroyuki Kawasaki

The key to excellent Amami Kokuto Shochu lies in excellent koji or malted rice. The oils within the rice are released only because of malted rice. Amami Kokuto Shochu is made from brown sugar, which is made from sugarcanes, so Amami Kokuto Shochu and white rum have sugarcanes in common. However, when compared to the dry taste of white rum, Amami Kokuto Shochu has a distinctive flavor, a combination of sweetness and oil. This is due to the malted rice in the primary preparation stage. Malted rice is the key ingredient to bring out the unique Amami Kokuto Shochu taste. When I make malted rice, I believe the depth of hazekomi* is crucially important. Hazekomi is the level of koji mold’s hyphae growth. I try to get a hazekomi that is deep enough to have koji mold’s hyphae reach the most valuable part of rice, the starch stored at the core of each grain. With a deep hazekomi, the resulting shochu tends to be smooth and superb. To achieve this, we are constantly working on the water absorption rate of rice and how well it is steamed. We have also incorporated steps in the production process where we look at the cross-section of a grain of rice to check on the level of hazekomi. Unfortunately, committing to deep hazekomi also means lower production output. However, deep hazekomi is how I can produce what I believe is the rich, perfect shochu, so compromising is not an option.

When compared to Amami Honkaku Shochu, other Honkaku Shochu types that are made from potatoes and barley contain starch because it is a part of their ingredient, so I do not see the need to maintain the flavors of rice or malted rice. On the other hand, Amami Kokuto Shochu relies on rice for its starch, so among Honkaku Shochu types, it has the best reason to showcase the flavors of malted rice.

To enjoy Yayoi Shochu, made from our serious commitment to malted rice, I recommend trying one of our brands with high ABV, neat. At shochu tasting events abroad, we have seen many people revel in the satisfaction that a 40% Yayoi served neat brings, savoring the flavor that is nothing like rum. Please try a Yayoi and experience the smooth, mellow, and rich flavors of a deep hazekomi.

*Hazekomi: A term describing the breeding of koji molds. Haze is the state where spores of koji mold seeded on steamed rice germinate and grow, and the hyphae become white and visible. The level of growth is hazemawari, and the level of invasive growth of hyphae into the core of the rice grain is hazekomi.


Yayoi 40% ABV

Atmospheric distillation, white koji

This is exclusively made for international sales and is not sold in Japan.  It is gentle but powerful and aromatic.  High-quality brown sugar from Okinawa is used, and lipids from rice malt bring out the umami flavors.