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This new shochu is positioning itself as a must-have cocktail ingredient

Daiyame 40

Shochu – a distilled spirit most often consumed neat, on the rocks, or mixed with soda. 

While this unique Japanese export certainly hasn’t gotten as much time in the sun as it deserves, a pioneering distillery from Kagoshima is hoping to change that by first altering the way we think about and consume the beverage.

Hamada Syuzou, a shochu producer established since 1868, has unveiled the Daiyame 40, a shochu they say is “designed for bartenders” and for spirit lovers worldwide. They’ve even partnered with celebrated mixologist Shuzo Nagumo to come up with recipes that make use of their shochu as the main spirit. 

Shuzo Nagumo is the founder of Spirits & Sharing in Tokyo. Photo credit: Hamada Syuzou

To that end, Nagumo has come up with three very different concoctions – twists on the Ramos Gin Fizz, Espresso Martini and Classic Martini – to showcase the varied use of shochu in cocktails.

According to Hamada Syuzou, the suitability of the Daiyame 40 (named after the 40% ABV of the shochu) as a mixing spirit, comes from its punchy lychee aromas, firm structure and clean finish. The word ‘Daiyame’ is Kagoshima dialect for an evening drink following a hard day’s work.

[Read more: This new koji whisky is changing the way we think about Japanese spirits]

Made from sweet potatoes, the shochu goes through using an innovative koujuku (literally meaning aroma-amplifying) technique that gives the Daiyame 40 a richer profile that stands up to mixing. Chill-filtering is also used to extract and further enhance the aromas from its raw ingredients.

Daiyame 40 is positioning itself as a bartender’s best friend. Photo credit: Hamada Syuzou

The Daiyame 40 is actually the second in line of a series of products from the distiller. The first, the Daiyame 25, won top prize in the shochu distilled spirits category at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London in 2019, before claiming double gold at the International Spirits Challenge in 2020 as well.

[Read more: Local flavours driving craft gin innovation among Japanese distilleries]

Clearly appealing more to an international audience, the producer also recommends the Daiyame 40 to be paired with French cuisine, Italian pastas and pizzas, barbequed food as well as dishes seasoned with Mexican spices.

Find out more about the Daiyame 40 here.