Japan Centre Sake Series Part 4: Sake, Shochu or Umeshu?

Welcome to Japan Centre’s Sake Series. Whether you’re a sake connoisseur or a complete beginner, let the Japan Centre be your guide to the rich world of sake. Part 4: Sake, Shochu or Umeshu? will give you an insight into some of Japan’s other delicious alcoholic drinks, and show you how to get creative with cocktails. 

With party season fast approaching, there’s no better time to think about getting creative with cocktails and trying out something new for 2021. Part 2: Choosing Your Sake gives you an insight into the different sake classifications for all budgets, from standard Futsushu sake through to premium Junmai. But if you want to try something a little different, with a fruity zing or a bit of a fizz, then here’s a recap of Japan Centre Sake Sommelier Sachiko Koyama’s top recommendations:

Sparkling, Cloudy, or Fruity?

Sake or Shochu?

If you want to further tantalise your tastebuds, then why not give shochu a try? Shochu is another popular and versatile drink from Japan, with an alcohol level usually between 25-45%. Sake is a fermented alcohol made with rice whilst shochu is a distilled beverage which can be made from rice or a variety of other ingredients such as sweet potato, barley, or buckwheat. Each of these different ingredients gives shochu a unique flavour, much like the varying tastes of scotch whiskey. 

Shochu originated in Kyoto and its popularity is highest in southern Japan where the weather is warmer. Sake brewing is more suited to cool temperatures, but shochu can be distilled in warmer climates. 

Premium shochu is often served with lots of ice or hot water in winter. Non-premium shochu is a great base for fruity cocktails as it has a high alcohol content, and can be mixed with different ingredients to compliment its earthy taste. 

Sake, Shochu and Umeshu Cocktail Ideas

Shochu Caipirinha

Muddled with lime, sugar and ice, our Shochu Caipirinha gives Brazil’s national cocktail a Japanese twist.

Shochu Caipirinha Cocktail recipe.

Strawberry Sake Cocktail

This tempting cocktail combines the sweetness of strawberries, the acidity of yuzu juice, and the unique fragrant fruitiness of sake. 

Strawberry Sake Cocktail recipe.

Umeshu and Gin Cocktail

The perfect blend of rich, sweet umeshu and aromatically tart gin, this cocktail is for anyone who enjoys sweeter gins or who wishes to balance out the sweeter flavours of umeshu plum wine.

Umeshu and Gin Cocktail recipe.

Want to Find Out More About Sake?

If you’ve missed the other blog posts in our Japan Centre Sake Series, check out Part 1: What is Sake and How is it Made? for a brief history of sake and an overview of how it’s made.

Part 2: Choosing Your Sake is helpful for those of you who need to navigate your way through the different styles and grades available.

Part 3: Enjoying Sake With Food focuses on how to serve and enjoy your chosen sake and introduces you to some delicious food pairings. All blog posts have been written with expert insight from Japan Centre Sake Sommelier Sachiko Koyama.

Japan Centre have directly imported some of the best sake from the finest breweries in Japan and our in-house sommelier team at Japan Centre Leicester Square will be more than happy to help you select a sake to suit you if you are shopping in-store.

Enjoy all this and more by shopping in-store at Japan Centre Leicester Square, Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City. Alternatively you can get fresh produce delivered straight to your door by shopping online at the Japan Centre website.

Words by Emily Lovell