While many companies in Kagoshima produce and sell shochu, few outside of the city know that the product is rarely produced by large corporations and is handled by a small family-run company. That is, at Satsuma Shuzo, the quality of the spirit is maintained through generations of skilled craftsmanship.
Shochu can be made from various crops, such as rice, barley, or buckwheat. The most popular variety is imo shochu, which is produced in Kagoshima.
With three main distilleries, Satsuma Shuzo can rely on various farm produce to make its signature Honkaku Shochu.
Sweet potato crops in Kagoshima are planted in February and harvested in August. The type of sweet potato that is used for making shochu is called Kogane Sengan. Before they are picked, they are boiled and steamed, and then crushed by a machine. The finished product is usually refined into beer.
After the koji has been made, it is mixed with water and yeast, which ferments for about six to eight days. The resulting product, which is a mash called moromi, is then moved along the distillation process.
The koji is mixed with water and yeast, which ferments for about six to eight days. The sweet potato puree is then mixed with the moromi to make the secondary koji.
It is stored in a cooling container that can be used up to 24 days. The process lasts about 18 days. This process is carried out for both straight and mixed varieties of shochu.
The Meijigura Museum presents an intimate look at the history of shochu distilling. It is located in Kagoshima City, Japan. The smell of the grain and the dark air still lingers in the air even when no shochu is being made.