Japanese Sake has two: Nihonshu and Shochu
When it comes to Japanese Sake, there are two kinds: "Nihonshu" and "Shochu". Do you know the differences and how to enjoy them properly? Let's find out in this article
Waku WakuPublished on 14 May, 12:00
Sake is a general term to address alcoholic beverages in Japan. However, it is often misunderstood that Sake refers only to "Nihonshu" in many cases.
Normally, when you come to a Japanese restaurant and say: "I'll have a cup of Sake". Then you will be asked: "Which sake do you want, Shochu or Nihonshu?"
Knowing the difference would be a great help when choosing which Sake you want!
1. How to produce
Firstly, the production methods are different for both Sake. In other words, Nihonshu and Shochu are different types of alcoholic beverages.
Nihonshu is a unique Japanese liquor made from fermented rice and water. It is brewed alcohol, so it lies in the same alcoholic category as beer or wine.
Shochu, on the other hand, is distilled spirits which is the same production method as whisky, vodka, or gin.
You may have heard somewhere that Nihoshu is also called "Japanese rice wine".
Ingredients are the next important aspect that separates Shochu from Nihonshu.
As mentioned above, Rice is the main ingredient of Nihonshu. But Shochu, however, is made from 3 major materials: sweet potato (Imo), rice (Kome), or wheat (Mugi). Along with other sub-materials, the total number of Shochu's ingredients is over 50.
Although rice is used for both drinks, the rice type used for Nishonshu is exclusive, while table-grade rice is used to make Shochu.
If you know the difference between how to produce and the difference of ingredients, you may be able to imagine the difference in taste by now.
Nihonshu has rice-based sweetness and mildness while Shochu has a more clean finish and a boozy quality.
4. Alcohol content
The alcohol content of Nihonshu is about 15%.
Shochu's alcohol content ranges from about 25 to 35%.
5. How to drink
Because of the alcohol content, the recommended way of drinking is different.
Normally, Nihonshu is suitable to enjoy straight. You can also choose from cold, room temperature, or warmed (Atsukan), to enjoy how the temperature can make the difference. You can order how hot it can be too: warm, a bit hot or very hot…?
Shochu has a higher alcohol content, so it should be enjoyed with other materials and ingredients.
On the rocks (with ice), with water, or as a fruit cocktail... There are many ways to enjoy, depending on your preference.
If you are still not sure what to choose…
Nihonshu: if you are a beginner to Nihonshu, choose the sweeter and fruity type. When you drink Nihonshu with a meal, a clear one would be suitable.
Nihonshu has a variety of local brews as well. If you find any local Nihonshu, it is also good to try the local original sake as a unique experience.
Shochu: If you are new to Shochu, choose wheat (Mugi) Shochu. Wheat Shochu is said to be an easy drink without an acquired flavor. So, how about Mugi Shochu with Soda or Cocktail?
Meanwhile, Sweet potato (Imo) is said to be the most classic Shoshu. If you have a chance, please try it too to see if you like that characteristic sweetness and aroma…??? On the rock can be a good way to try, too.
This article was talking about "Japanese Sake". Hopefully, this helps your Japanese Sake try!
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