An overview of the shōchū production process
- Washing and soaking – The rice used to produce the kōji is washed and soaked.
- Steaming – The rice is drained, and then steamed continuously in a steamer.
- Cooling – The steamed rice is cooled down to a suitable temperature.
- Cultivating kōji – Tanekōji, or mold starter, is added to the cooled rice. The kōji is ready around two days after the starter has been added. Kōji comes in three varieties: black, white, and yellow.
- Preliminary preparation – Shōchū yeast and 100% spring water are added to the malted rice. The shōchū yeast multiplies, and the preliminary moromi (yeast mash) is ready in around one week.
- Harvesting – Fresh sweet potatoes grown with tender loving care on our contracted farm are harvested.
- Selecting – Sweet potatoes are accepted from each region and washed. They are then sorted by hand, and damaged areas are removed.
- Steaming – After selection, the sweet potatoes are steamed carefully in a steamer.
- Cooling – The steamed sweet potatoes are cooled.
- Crushing – The sweet potatoes are crushed and then sent to a tank where the secondary moromi is prepared.
- Secondary preparation – Water and steamed sweet potatoes are added to the preliminary preparation, which then takes around two weeks to ferment.
- Distillation – The moromi is added to a still and heated by steam, and the alcohol that evaporates is cooled in a cooler to produce shōchū.
- Storage and maturation – The shōchū is stored and left to mature for a fixed period of time (usually around three to four months).
- Blending – Shōchū from each tank is blended to produce a spirit of uniform quality.
- Bottling – The shōchū is put into product containers. Each product is given a visual inspection to check for contaminants, cracks, and other defects. Products that pass inspection are labeled and packed into cases.
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