Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association | JSS


The Basic Guide What Does Shochu Taste Like?

What Does Shochu Taste Like?

Shochu is a spirit and does not contain sugar or amino acids. While it has a hint of sweet, sour, and bitter tastes as well as a noticeable mouthfeel, what determines its flavor is the aroma. Shochu is made from a variety of base ingredients, giving it a wide spectrum of flavors across and within each type.

Sweet Potatoes (Imo) 芋

Sweet potato shochu traditionally has a distinct aroma and round taste with a hint of sweetness similar to sweet potatoes. The flavor may also contain notes of lavender, rose, and violets. Depending on the sweet potato variety and distillation method, it may also have a fruity aroma of lychee and mango or a hint of tea and yogurt.

Barley (Mugi) 麦

Barley shochu has a hint of barley-like aroma and a refreshing, sweet taste. The flavor can vary from rich with a nutty, roasted barley-like flavor to light and refreshing with a fruity aroma. This variation mainly depends on the distillation method.

Rice (Kome) 米

Rice shochu has a mellow flavor with a hint of sweetness in the aftertaste. Like other types of shochu, this variety can also taste light and floral depending on the distillation method. Some rice shochu has a fruity aroma similar to ginjo sake.


Awamori has a mellow earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness in the aftertaste. Aged awamori notably develops a rich flavor with a vanilla-like sweet fragrance and a fatty aroma.

Brown Sugar (Kokuto) 黒糖

Brown sugar shochu has a light, refreshing flavor and a sweet aroma like raw sugar. There is a hint of sweetness despite no sugar content in the drink itself.

Buckwheat (Soba) ソバ

Buckwheat shochu is light and smooth with a hint of sweetness and depth of flavor. It has a white floral aroma with green notes.


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