Kokuto shochu is made from kokuto. Kokuto is a type of unrefined dark sugar that is made by pulping sugar cane and then boiling the juice for hours until it dries into blocks. Nutrient rich and more delicious than any brown sugar you have ever tried in the US, kokuto’s closest cousin may be muscovado.
Kokuto shochu can only legally be made in the Amami Islands between Kagoshima Prefecture and Okinawa. There are 28 distilleries producing products under 18 different brand portfolios. Ten smaller distilleries work together to make a single portfolio rather than trying to compete against the larger suppliers on the islands.
Most of the distilleries are on the main island of Amami, but shochu is also made on 4 other of the 8 inhabited Amami Islands. These islands used to be part of the Ryukyu Kingdom (modern day Okinawa), but were invaded and captured by the Satsuma Domain in the early 1600s and have remained part of Japan ever since. Today they are considered part of Kagoshima Prefecture, which is the modern name for most of the Satsuma Domain.
Under Japanese regulations, shochu made from kokuto must use koji rice in the first fermentation. Kokuto sugar is then added to the second fermentation. While alcohol can be made with sugar alone, the use of koji rice adds a depth of flavor often missing from rum (the most popular spirit made from sugar cane).
We hope to have many more kokuto shochu reviews available soon.
Kikaijima Kurochu An aged kokuto sugar shochu with a rich, luscious complexity.
Amami A rich, tasty kokuto sugar shochu from the Amami islands.
Jougo A lovely kokuto sugar shochu. What it lacks in complexity it makes up for in flavor.