Kagoshima Shochu Makers Association

Shochu & How to Enjoy It

How to really enjoy your shochu!
The basics.

Kagoshima shochu can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, from having it straight or served on the rocks, to cutting it with warm water or even soda. Today, we spoke with Ikehata-san, the owner of Ishizue, a specialist shochu bar located in Kagoshima City.

Sodawari – Cutting with Soda Water

What you’ll need:
・Shochu—use shochu made from purple sweet potatoes when possible (such as murasaki or beni). Fruity-type shochu can also be used and shochu with an ABV of 30% or more is best.
・Soda Water (carbonated water)
・Chilled glass
・Muddler (long enough to reach the bottom of the glass)

1. Prepare all of the items including a chilled glass. Add the ice to the glass first.

2. Pour the shochu.

3. Add the soda water.

4. Using a muddler, lift the ice from the bottom of the glass and slowly stir in two full turns.


  1. Chill a tall glass in the freezer or refrigerator until cool. Because the glass is chilled, the drink can be enjoyed with or without the ice.
  2. Fill a quarter of the glass with shochu.
  3. Slowly fill the glass with soda water.
  4. Using a muddler, lift the ice from the bottom of the glass and slowly stir in two full turns.
  5. Enjoy the thirst-quenching fizz and lovely aromas as they expand throughout your mouth.


  1. Use a tall glass, such as a Collins glass.
  2. Use shochu with 30% ABV or more for stronger aromatics.
  3. Avoid pouring directly onto the ice when pouring the soda water.
  4. Shochu with 36% ABV or more will exhibit a delightfully thick and smooth texture when it is chilled in the freezer.

Oyuwari — Cutting with Warm Water

What you’ll need:
・Warm water
・A ceramic cup or heat-resistant glass
Chirori or similar vessel for holding the shochu and water*
・An electric warmer or pot for heating the chirori

*A chirori is a metallic vessel made of copper, brass, or tin used to heat shochu.

When making oyuwari for the first time it is difficult to discern what should be poured first; the water or the shochu? This topic is often debated in Kagoshima but the truth of the matter is that there is no correct order at all. Nevertheless, the order chosen will provide some slight differences to the profile of the drink being prepared. For example, pouring the water first delivers sweetness while leading with the shochu offers dryness. Bearing this in mind when preparing a drink can help create a better drinking experience.

The most common way to prepare oyuwari is by mixing pre-heated warm water with shochu. Here, however, we would like to introduce an alternative method known as kantsuke. This style of oyuwari produces a wonderful mellowness and the act of preparing the drink further adds to the experience.

1. Pour the water and shochu into the chirori.

2. Heat to about 50°C in winter or about 42°C in summer.

3. Pour the shochu into a ceramic cup and enjoy it while it is still warm.


  1. Boil a small amount of water in a pot-the water should fill about 1/4th of the chirori when submerged.
  2. Pour 1-part shochu and 1-part water into the chirori.
  3. Place the chirori in the pot and allow it to heat. Heat the oyuwari to about 50°C in winter and about 42°C in summer.
  4. Remove the chirori and pour the contents into a ceramic cup for drinking. Enjoy the delicious aroma as it rises with the steam.
  5. Add to your experience by exploring the different drinking vessels oyuwari can be enjoyed with.
  6. A heat-resistant wine glass can bring a new dynamic to the occasion.

Mizuwari / Rokku — Cut with water & On the Rocks

What you’ll need:
・Mineral water (for mizuwari – soft water, if possible)

1. Add the ice and allow it to chill the glass.

2. Pour the shochu.

3. Pour in the mineral water if you are making mizuwari.

4. Lightly stir.


  1. Add a decent amount of ice to the glass; more ice will delay the ice from melting.
  2. Using a muddler, lightly stir the ice to chill the entire glass.
  3. Once the glass has been chilled, fill half the glass with shochu.
  4. Fill the remainder with mineral water (ideally soft water if you are making mizuwari).
  5. Enjoy the character of the shochu as it transforms with the melting ice.

Honkaku Shochu Bar Ishizue – interview with Yuichi Ikehata, Owner

A specialist shochu bar, Ishizue is conveniently located in the center of Tenmonkan, the heart of Kagoshima’s entertainment district. It boasts an impressive lineup of Kagoshima labels—well over 1500—and Ikehata-san speculates that it may be the largest selection in all of Kagoshima. A former distillery worker turned bar owner, Ikehata-san opened Ishizue back in 2009, hoping to provide both locals and visitors with the opportunity to truly experience shochu. It’s a place where both beginners and enthusiasts can complement the moment with shochu.

Beyond indulging in the drinks at Ishizue, there is much to learn via their displays and literature on shochu—historical charts, maps, books, and even a replica still. Browsing the books further accentuates the experience, plus it gives you the tools to find the right shochu for the occasion. Delve into the world of Kagoshima Honkaku Shochu with Iketa-san and Bar Ishizue.