Awamori is a distilled spirit which originates, and continues to be produced in Okinawa, Japan with a history of over 500 years. Awamori is made of 4 ingredients, rice, kuro koji (Aspergillus Awamori), yeast and water.
Fermentation usually occurs in stainless steel tanks, but Some distilleries choose to use ceramic urns which gives the awamori intensity, rich and spice. Awamori only goes through a single fermentation, and the maturation period depends entirely on the distillery.....awamori less than 3 years old is called shinshu, and over 3 years old is called koshu or kusu.
Awamori is delicious served neat and on the rocks. This way of drinking awamori is particularly popular among those who adhere to the traditional way of enjoying awamori. Another popular way of drinking awamori is mizuwari (with water) or oyuwari (with warm water).
There is a new culture of young awamori meisters in Okinawa who are putting their own spin on more contemporary ways of drinking awamori. It is a fantastic white spirit substitute in your favourite cocktails like negroni and margaritas.
Awamori does not spoil. Instead, the flavour developes and intensifies over time....keep it tightly capped and it just keeps getting better!
How Awamori is made
- After rice is washed, it is left to soak in water in order to germinate. It is then steamed, kuro koji is added to the rice, and then set aside for 2 or 3 days to allow the kuro koji to spread.
- The rice is added to water and yeast to create moromi and then fermented for between 2 and 4 weeks. This is called zenkoji jikomi.
- Once fermentation finishes, it's then distilled in pot still, similar to malt whisky or cognac. It's the most simple distilling method, and retains the most flavour and nose.
- Awamori is commonly stored in stainless steel tanks or ceramic urns (kame). It is also sometimes stored in oak barrels.
- Production depends on the size of the distillery and happens all year round.