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Sak, Soju, and Shochu


Soju is a clear spirit that originated in Korea. It was traditionally made with rice but, ever since distilling rice was banned during the Korean War, distillers have used other grains and starches, such as wheat, sweet potatoes, and even tapioca. As a result, sojus vary in aroma and flavor.

Soju is most often drunk straight with food, like wine, but is also used in cocktails, like a spirit. It has a neutral flavor, like vodka, but half the alcohol content, typically between 20 and 34 percent.


Shochu is a traditional Japanese spirit made from grains and vegetables. The most common base ingredients are sweet potato, barley, rice, buckwheat and sugar cane. Shochu originated in Japan at least 500 years ago. It shares certain characteristics with soju, including a similarly low ABV (between 25 and 30 percent ABV on average) and pronunciation.

Shochu is most often consumed on the rocks, mixed with cold or hot water, or with fresh juice, which lowers the alcohol content even further to about 12 to 15 percent ABV, similar to a glass of wine. It can also be used as a substitute spirit in classic cocktails like the Martini or Negroni.


Sake is not rice wine. Nor is it Japanese vodka, or a distilled spirit of any kind. Sake has more in common with beer than any other alcoholic beverage. Like beer, it’s made with steeped grain and is brewed and fermented with yeast. In sake’s case, it is then fermented a second time with koji mold.

Flavor-wise, sake can range from dry to sweet, measured by the Sake Meter Value (SMV), a numerical scale ranging from -15 to +15, with dryness increasing with number. You’ll often see these numbers on sake menus or on sake bottle labels. It is usually clear and still; but unfiltered sake is milky white, and some sakes are carbonated.


Drinks to keep you warm this winter...

 Survive the cold season with a few hot drinks to get you through the winter blues and warm you from the inside out!

Hot Shochu

The key to enjoying this Japanese beverage in winter is a shot of hot boiling water. 

Mixed with the right amount, hot water transforms this drink from simply alcoholic to light and mild. Mix and match the consistency as you like, but the standard is  2/3 shochu, 1/3 hot water.

Umeshu Oyuwari (Plum Wine with Hot Water)

Delicious enough on its own, especially over ice, this plum wine is lighter than shochu – around 10 to 15% depending on the brand. The balance with this should be lighter… Shoot for 1/4 to 2/3 hot water.

Hot Sake

Sake is the definitive Japanese beverage. You can buy a bottle of Saké and heat it up a portion in a separate sake decanter in a pot of boiling water. Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and immerse the decanter for 2-3 minutes. Pour into a glass that has been rinsed in boiling water and enjoy!

What We′re Drinking... Hemosu Pine Forest Soju; Dewazakura "Green Ridge"; Mizu (Cherry Blossom) Sakura Cask Shochu 

NV Summer Snow-Kamoizumi/Nigori Ginjo (unpasteurized)
500ml | SKU 78681  Note: this is an unpasteurized sake, which must be kept refrigerated. It is not available for shipment.
Heiwa Shuzou Nigori
720ml | SKU 85972 
Manzairaku Honjozo
720ml | SKU 85978 
Manzairaku Junmai
720ml | SKU 85974