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What is Awamori?

Awamori is Japan's oldest distilled liquor. It is made from long-grained indica rice, using yeast and Kuro Koji mould (Black Koji mould) of Okinawa origin. Through the trades with China and Southeast Asia in the early 15th century, Thai distillation techniques were introduced into the Ryukyu Kingdom (Okinawa). Since then, Awamori has been improved and refined to be praised for its savor.

Awamori shows the greatest charm in its aging. Aging deepens the taste and flavour of Awamori through a long, undisturbed process. The more matured, the milder it becomes. When aged for three years or more, it is called "Kusu"(aged Awamori) and it can be preserved for several decades. (The oldest existing Awamori is over 140 years old.) After a long preservation, you will find hearty liquor richness in taste and flavour.

Process of making Awamori

Awamori is made from Thai long grain indica rice. Firstly rice is pulverized, washed, soaked well in water and steamed. Secondly black Koji mould is sprayed over steamed rice and they are both mixed well to spread Koji mould fairly all over rice. This process is called Catiai and the most important things to make good rice Koji is to keep this process under the same temperature around 40 degrees for 40 - 50 hours. After rice Koji is made, mix it with water and yeast in a tank to get fermented under the same temperature. After 2 weeks fermentation, aged Moromi (sake mash) is made. Different from Shochu's second time fermentation with main ingredients such as sweet potato or barley, Awamori is fermented single time only. Finally, Moromi is heated by distilling boiler then steam of alcohol is cooled down and here is the birth of raw Awamori. The first collected drop is called Hanazake (flower sake) and the alcohol degree is around 70 degree. Raw Awamori is aged for 3-12 months for the new sake or more than 3 years for the old sake (Kusu). After the aging, some water is added to adjust the alcohol degree and bottled.

Drinking Tip

Awamori is best to be consumed after aged for more than 3 years. Firstly, I recommend you to sip Awamori straight to taste the real flavour. Then you can drink Awamori mixing with ice, water or hot water. You can also add a slice of lemon or cucumber for refreshment. Some people in Okinawa drink Awamori mixed with Coffee or condensed milk. Please try and find your favorite way to enjoy Awamori.