Shōchū is a strong Japanese distilled spirit. When I visited Kyushu, I heard that there’s a famous shōchū storehouse called Sengetsu in the city of Hitoyoshi.
SENGETSU SHUZO company was founded in 1903 with the original name MINENOTSUYU SHUZO. In 2003, to celebrate its 100th year in business, the name changed to SENGETSU SHUZO.
Kumamoto Prefecture is well known for a rice shōchū called Kuma shōchū (球磨焼酎). The name comes from Kuma river, a river running through the fog-shrouded Hitoyoshi basin. Kuma shōchū uses the water from Kuma river. The shōchū has distinctive feature: it has a more fragrant taste thanks to a long period of soaking in clay jars. During its brewery history, the company also studied oak barrel hoarding for years to improve overall quality and taste.
Shimenawa Sacred Ropes at the entrance
The distillery is open for a free guided tour at any time of its opening hours. 5 minutes after I filled in my info at the reception, the guide showed up. The tour to the distillery was conducted in Japanese only and I could barely understand anything. Yet the guide’s smile and politeness made it a pleasant experience. He explained everything about how the distilling process goes and I think I could guess what he meant most of the time. In the end, you are invited to try some of the shōchū made from the factory.
different shozu the factory makes
There are several big tables at the tasting area. You can try out 8 different Kuma Shochu, including 2 award winning shochu, “Kawabe”, and “Mai Sengetsu”.
The pink drink is a fruit wine, which isn’t as strong as shōchū. They even gave me a cute souvenir after tasting.
In the old days, there is a custom to drink the strong Kuma shozo (that contains 35-40% alcohol) warm. Straight heated shochu is poured from a gara decanter into a choku cup.
When I got drunk aster tasting the shōchū, I saw a cute decoration somewhere. It’s super cute, isn’t it?