TOKYO, March 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (*1) ran a booth at FOODEX Japan 2019, an international food and beverage exhibition held at Makuhari Messe from March 5 to 8, 2019. The booth exhibited more than 650 brands of "honkaku shochu and awamori," which are national liquors of Japan, and promoted them to both domestic and international buyers by offering tasting and various other events.
Although both liquors are as popular as sake in Japan, they are still relatively unknown overseas. With the TPP-11 and EPA trade agreements taking effect, the country as a whole is taking this opportunity to expand exports of these liquors. As part of the activities, the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association has been working to increase overseas recognition of these liquors by various measures, such as holding a competition for hotel bartenders to make cocktails with a honkaku shochu or awamori base and collaborating with hotel bars in Japan, where foreign tourists tend to visit to drink, with the aim of raising awareness of honkaku shochu and awamori among people in other countries.
In the press event for foreign media, Mr. Christopher Pellegrini, a certified shochu advisor, talked about their taste and flavor characteristics by different ingredients (rice, barley, sweet potato, etc.); differences between honkaku shochu and awamori and other distilled liquors from other countries (e.g. Soju from Korea); and their pairing with foods, comprehensively describing the attractive world of them. The talk was also accompanied by a tasting session.
Next, Director Jin Utsunomiya of the association gave a briefing on their market trends and overseas expansion strategies, along with case examples, such as participating in international spirits festivals and bar events and proactively inviting famous mixologists to distillery tours.
Then, participants visited booths run by local producers, tasting them and listening to the distilleries describe the characteristics of their products.
Lastly, there was a cocktail show by Ms. Yumi Miyata, winner of last year’s Honkaku Shochu and Awamori Cocktail Competition, made her award-winning sweet potato shochu-based cocktail and offered it to the participants for tasting.
Generally, most distilled liquors are enjoyed as digestives at bars and rarely drunk during meals. In Japan, however, they have been commonly enjoyed during meals. They are high-quality liquors rich in flavor and aroma of the ingredients and koji (malt).
The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association is endeavoring to spread them around the world, made with regional-specific traditional methods as part of a collaborative project among breweries and manufacturers’ associations from different areas by, for example, receiving a Geographical Indication (GI) brand (*2) and launching and developing Regional Collective Trademark brands (*3). By promoting them along with these valuable brands, the association believes that it can persuade the world that every honkaku shochu variety under the name of a made-in-Japan brand is of high quality.
The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association is a liquor industry association with members consisting of makers of the national liquors of Japan, including sake, honkaku shochu and awamori. The association has been making efforts to boost the consumption of these liquors and promotes them both within and outside Japan, and as part of efforts it participates in FOODEX Japan every year.
Geographical Indications (GI): A geographical indication is a mark used on a product, specifying its geographical origin and showing quality and/or reputation that are derived from that origin. GI products are certified by the national government and protected as intellectual properties among WTO member countries. Typical examples of GI products include "Champagne," "Bordeaux wine" and "Scotch whiskey." Iki Shochu, Kuma Shochu and Ryukyu Awamori are specific GI products of honkaku shochu and awamori.
Regional Collective Trademark brands: Under this system, a locally developed product that uses the name of its geographical region is protected as a nationally certified regional brand within Japan registered with the Japan Patent Office. It applies to Hakata Shochu, Oita Mugi Shochu, Miyazaki Honaku Shochu and Amami Kokuto Shochu.