Sunday, April 5, 2015

Zuisen Distillery Tour and Tasting

Awamori is an Okinawan distilled liquor, with a history of over 600 years. We like to learn about local things when we are on vacation, so we visited Zuisen Distillery for their tour. The distillery is located very close to Shuri Castle and the tour and tasting were free.

Tours are offered every half hour and as it turned out, Ted and I were the only participants on this tour.  The tour began with a film in Japanese, with English subtitles.  Awamori is made from rice imported from Thailand. The rice is heated by steam, then sprayed with black mold. Next water and yeast are added and it is left to ferment for about two weeks, then distilled. Awamori that is aged for more than three years is called “couth”.

Awamori was an important trade item during the Ryukyu period and was served to foreign guests who visited the island.  When we visited Shuri-jo over the new year holiday we saw a re-enactment depicting awamori being served.

After the tour, we tasted eight different kinds of the alcohol.  Tasting is offered to guests at least 20 years old who aren’t driving.  The first four were 30 years, 35 years, 40 years, and 43 years.  I was expecting it to taste like the whiskey we tasted at the Yamazaki place in Kyoto, but it wasn’t.  The awamori was very smooth and easy to drink. After the first four, we tasted four flavored versions – umi (plum), kotuto (brown sugar), kabuchii, and passion fruit. We ended up buying six small bottles for omiage and a bottle of kabuchii for ourselves.

This was another interesting thing we did in Okinawa.

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