"Kampai!" or "Cheers!" This week on Japan Eats host Akiko Katayama welcomes Stephen Lyman to the studio talking all about the Japanese alcoholic beverage shochu. Founder and editor of Kampai!, Stephen explains his devotion to shochu, of which he is an expert and shares his travels to Kyushu (where 90%+ of authentic shochu is made) where he visited 6 distilleries and tried 262 different shochu (there are an estimated 6,000 labels from 600 distilleries in Japan) in just 5 days. Stephen went on to neighboring Okinawa where he visited 5 more Awamori distilleries. Upon his return from Japan he realized he had just scratched the surface of understanding shochu, but by this point his obsession had turned into a passion. After the break, Akiko and Stephen taste select shochu in studio and discuss traits to look for in the unique beverage.
"Virtually all shochu is aged 3 to 6 months." [28:30]
"If I'm just out drinking with friends, the easiest way to drink it is on the rocks... In the summertime I really like shochu with soda." [29:45]
--Stephen Lyman on Japan Eats