Shochu is a major distilled alcoholic beverage of Japan, and Shoju is a similarly distilled alcoholic beverage in Korea. Distillation came from China through Korea to Japan. “Fire sake” is used for distillation of Shochu in Japan. According to the Japanese tax code, there are two kinds of shochu dependent on alcohol content: 25% or 30%. For the US market, Shochu or Shoju often contains less than 25% (23.5- 21%) alcohol to accommodate state regulations. Distillation gives some flavor profile depending on ingredients used for the original fermentation. Shochu uses rice, sweet potatoes, buckwheat or barley. The raw materials and distillation equipment and conditions give faint differences in the flavor profile of the finished products, like vodka, rum, tequila or whiskey.
Shochu is a distilled alcoholic beverage like vodka, rum, tequila or whiskey. Distilled alcoholic beverages prevent microbial spoilage and preserve precious drinks for storage or while traveling. Without distillation, bacteria would turn alcoholic beverages into vinegar. Pasteurization (heat treatment) also helps to avoid spoilage in food and medical products. And yet another method of preventing microbial spoilage is the concentration of alcohol accomplished through distilling.
Distillation is a common practice of concentrating alcohol. Alcohol in a closed container is placed over heat, allowing the alcohol to evaporate (at a lower boiling temperature than water). Cooling turns the evaporated alcohol back to liquid, but at a higher concentration. In many cultures, distilled alcoholic beverages are conveniently used for drinking as well as for the sterilization of knives and surgical equipment.
Shochu can be consumed directly, on the rocks, diluted with water or hot water, or added to other ingredients such as fruit juices or herbs. Shochu has gained popularity among young consumers because it mixes well with other materials. In the U.S., Shochu is sold mainly in Japanese or Asian markets and consumed by people from Japan or Asia. But it has recently gained popularity as a drink mixer among non-Asian populations.