Exploring Amami Oshima’s Kokuto Shochu

Hello, everyone. Today’s blog is about Amami’s Kokuto Shochu (brown sugar distilled liquor).

About Kokuto Shochu

Bottles of Kokuto Shochu

Kokuto Shochu is a distilled liquor made using brown sugar as an ingredient, and it is permitted to be produced exclusively in the Amami Islands. It is characterized by a subtle sweet aroma and a refreshing, easy-to-drink quality.

The History of Kokuto Shochu

Sake brewing in Amami Oshima dates back to 500 years ago. Similar to Okinawa, Amami Oshima used rice to make Awamori. The production of liquor using brown sugar began during World War II. Due to the war, there was a shortage of rice, making it impossible to produce Awamori. Additionally, after the war, the Amami Islands were placed under American occupation, leading to a prohibition on trade with mainland Japan and the inability to ship the specialty product, brown sugar.

(C)Amami City

In response to these challenges, the islanders started brewing liquor using brown sugar. This marked the origin of Kokuto Shochu. When the Amami Islands were returned to Japan in 1953, a significant issue arose. Under the existing liquor tax law at the time, Kokuto liquor was classified as spirits, resulting in higher taxes. Faced with this problem, the people at that time petitioned the government. As a result, the liquor tax law was revised, and liquor meeting certain conditions was classified as Shochu. One of these conditions was “manufactured in the Amami Islands.

Let’s Try Kokuto Shochu!

A shelf of Kokuto Shochu

Kokuto Shochu is typically enjoyed on the rocks, but it’s also delicious with soda or hot water like highball style. I tried the “Amami Rabbit” purchased during my visit to the Amami Oshima Kaiun Shuzo distillery. This Shochu is made from the water of Mt.Yuwandake, a mountain we also visit on our tours, and it’s a blend of raw and barrel-aged Shochu.

Notably, a portion of the sales from this Shochu is donated to the protection of the Amami rabbit. Additionally, the packaging uses non-wood-based paper, making it an eco-friendly brand.
It has a whiskey-like barrel aroma and is refreshing and easy to drink.

Distillery Tours are Available

Visiting Kokuto Shochu Distillery

In Link Adventures, we offer the option to arrange a distillery tour as part of the Amami Oshima Sightseeing Tour.

There are 26 distilleries in the Amami Islands, each producing unique Kokuto Shochu. When you visit Amami Oshima, be sure to try and compare them!