In the 1970s in Miyazaki Prefecture, soba shochu (soba shōchū そば焼酎) was first created. Long considered a healthy food, soba, or buckwheat as it is called in English, soon caught on as a healthier way to drink alcohol. The famous Unkai Distillery capitalized on this with their popular Unkai brand, which remains the most popular buckwheat shochu in Japan.
Despite its name, buckwheat, or soba, is not a wheat, but a seed from the marigold family. Most of us know of soba noodles, which are buckwheat noodles that are essentially soul food in Japan. And they are delicious whether served hot in a soup or cold with a dipping sauce. Beyond that, soba noodles have purported health benefits compared to ramen or udon, which are made with wheat flour.
The Nagano region of Japan has now made buckwheat shochu their own local product as one of the top soba producing regions of the country, though most buckwheat shochu is still produced in Miyazaki thanks to Unkai Distillery, which is now one of the largest shochu distilleries in Japan.
SOBA SHOCHU REVIEWS
Towari A 100% buckwheat shochu with rich, nutty, roasted flavors and a surprising caramel popcorn flavor when diluted with water.
Kagura Tensho A buckwheat (soba) blend. Smooth and easy to drink.
Kagura no Mai A light buckwheat shochu with an interesting aroma profile.
Unkai An affordable, approachable soba shochu.