Devender Sehgal Mixes with Japanese Shochu from Kagoshima Distilleries
January 17, 2023
“Have you ever tried Japanese shochu before?” asks Miyako Kai, long time journalist and culture afficionado based in Hong Kong. She looks outwards at the few raised hands in the crowd and nods cheerily, relaying back to the television.
On Jan. 9, a handful of bartenders, mixologists, and restaurateurs gathered at the tea-inspired bar, Tell Camellia, to learn more about the mixing potential of shochu – a lesser-known Japanese distilled liquor. The Beat Asia discovers the allure of shochu, its history as the most favored liquor in its’ nation of origin, and its versatility in the future of cocktails.
Four representatives of famous distilleries in Kagoshima, Japan, were invited to speak to Hong Kong’s tipple trendsetters, to share with them the secrets of Shochu history, production, pairing, and appreciation.
With The Aubrey’s very own shochu lover and Beverage Manager, Devender Sehgal, leading a shochu-mixing workshop - the stage was finally set.
Shochu – as it turns out, is the number one drink of choice in Japan, contradictory to the international belief that sake is the country’s only liquor, let alone it’s favourite. By the early 2000s, shochu sales had already outstripped sake within the country, gradually gaining interest in North America, particularly in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto, and New York.
With an average ABV weaker than whiskey or vodka, but stronger than sake or wine, shochu is typically distilled from rice, barley, sweet potato, buckwheat, and fermented with koji – a special mold to convert the starches into alcohol.
While the distillery speakers were interviewed through video call on a large television screen, rounds of Shochu were carefully distributed among the crowd – earning “oohs” and “ahhs” from around the room once the tasting cup were brought to the lips.
The first bottle, Yasuda, is an elegant potato-based shochu with a mature floral finish. Mayuko was up next, femininely named as to target female consumers, its flavour profile denotes a sweet, clear taste.
Devender Sehgal expertly mixes up the next shochu, Daiyame 40, which is specially designed for tipples; with honey, citrus, and lavender for a wonderful sweet and sour payoff. The Daiyame 40 has a strong lychee smell on its own, making it the perfect ingredient for a tart cocktail.
Finally, a bottle of Mankoi is split up and passed around. Often compared to rum, the brown sugar-based shochu fermented with white rice koji, brings out all the oils of the base- ingredient for a smooth, sweet and fruity aftertaste that puts rum to shame.
For a one-of-a-kind introduction to these enigmatic Japanese liquors, The Aubrey is highlighting dishes from Kagoshima prefecture, paired with different ways to enjoy shochu for a limited time only. Experience the fragrant concoctions firsthand by booking a spot at The Aubrey by calling for a reservation, and check out the exclusive menu here.
When: Jan. 14 – Jan. 29
Where: The Aubrey, 25/F, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central
Contact details: [email protected] / +852 2825 4001
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