Okinawa's liquor is the rice-based distilled liquor, awamori. There are various brands, so you probably don't know which ones to buy. Here are 5 carefully chosen brands to consider on your shopping trip.
Tokiwa is a brand made in a brewery on Izena Island, a small island northwest of Okinawa's main island. It's made with the natural, high-quality water that wells up in this naturally blessed island. This brewery opened in 1949, and since then it has continued to carefully perform all tasks by hand. This awamori is rich and easy to drink, and has a label with a crane and a turtle on it, ancient symbols of good luck in Japan.
Price example: 1.8L, 30 proof bottle - 2,263 JPY (incl. tax)
Shinsen is a popular awamori brand made in Itoman, the southernmost town on the main island of Okinawa. It is one of the representative brands of Uehara Brewery, a company with more than 60 years of history. Their equipment uses ubame oak charcoal and produces electrons, which deoxidizes the ingredients of water and rice. It produces a liquor with a high quality aroma and mellow flavor.
Price example: 720 ml (880 JPY)
Zuisen is a famous awamori brand nationwide. The brewery, Zuisen Brewery, is a well-established company that started in 1887. The brewery is connected to the World Heritage Site Shuri Castle, so every day it's visited by plenty of tourists.
The recommended brand from this brewery is Seiryuu, which has won various liquor contests. It's made from a blend of mature well-cured awamori that has been preserved for over 3 years, so you can enjoy its characteristic mellow and sweet flavor.
Price example: 720ml bottle of Seiryuu (1,248 JPY (excl. tax))
This is a famous awamori made by Higa Brewery (founded 1948) from Yomitan-son in the center of the main island. It was made for women who don't usually like awamori to be able to drink, and they were able to make their original distillation machine from trial and error. The result was the Zanpa series, which has no bitterness and is refreshing, mellow, and has a fruity, rich aroma.
Price example: 720ml bottle of Zanpa Black 30 proof (800 JPY (excl. tax))
Seifuku is from a small distillery on Ishigaki Island. Every task in the process from collecting ingredients to pasteurization and distillation are done without any machinery, as they use the traditional hand-done process. The recommended awamori is the well-cured Seifuku Vintage 43 that's cured for 3 years. It's mellow yet rich and has a strong umami.
Example price: 720ml of Seifuku Vintage 43 (2,324 JPY (excl. tax))
All of these brands can be found in liquor stores and supermarkets on the main island, shops in Naha Airport, or in drinking establishments like izakaya (Japanese gastropubs). Please check them out!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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