For many, the first thing that Kyushu brings to mind is shochu, a distilled liquor made from local ingredients. Shochu is made from many different kinds of ingredients, such as rice, barley, sweet potato, brown sugar and buckwheat, and 90% of Japan’s shochu shipments originate from the prefectures of Kyushu.
Kyushu is also the largest shochu consuming region in Japan, with Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Nagasaki occupying the top three spots in the nation.
Among these various types of shochu, barley shochu originated on the island of Iki. Blessed with fertile, relatively flat land and abundant groundwater, Iki has been producing shochu for around 400 years.
Despite being a small island with an area of just 138 km2, there are seven active shochu distilleries on Iki today. On Iki, you can enjoy touring shochu distilleries, including those that produce their product entirely by hand without using any machines, those that mature their shochu in white oak barrels, and those with traditional distillation methods that preserve the flavor and aroma of the barley.
Another great thing about shochu is that, because it is a distilled spirit, it has no expiration date and can be stored at room temperature, so its quality does not deteriorate over time.