Many popular culinary things have come to us from Japan, including foods like miso, tofu, and wasabi. Beyond food, however, you can find numerous delicious drinks from Japan, including sake and a lesser-known alcohol called awamori.
Never heard of awamori? That’s okay – we’ll tell you what awamori tastes like, what it’s made from, and how it’s made. By the end of this post, you’ll have a little more information on this underrated drink.
What Does Awamori Taste Like?
Awamori, much like whiskey and wine, can be aged. The taste of your awamori will vary drastically based on whether it’s been aged, and if so, how long it’s been aged.
Once it’s been aged for three years, awamori becomes a drink known as kusu, which means “old liquor.” At this point, it acquires a brightness and fruitiness that’s a pleasure to savor.
Awamori that hasn’t been aged isn’t necessarily boring, though. Expect it to have deep, sophisticated flavors and a bit more of a punch, since aging it tends to mellow the flavor out.
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What is Awamori Made of?
Now, we’ll look at what goes into each bottle of awamori besides time. Awamori has three main ingredients: water, rice, and black koji.
Black koji is a type of yeast. It aids in the fermentation of the drink and functions as a flavor enhancer.
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How Do You Make Awamori?
Making awamori is a process that, above all other things, demands time. As we mentioned earlier, it can take years to make a batch.
You start by washing and steaming your rice. Afterwards, you mix black koji, your washed rice, and water. This combination is then distilled in a pot.
After it has been distilled, the awamori is stored in clay pots (and sometimes even barrels), where it is then aged for a number of years. You can read more about the process in this informative piece about awamori.
It takes at least three years to transform your awamori into the fruitier (and much smoother) kusu. You know what they say, though: good things come to those who wait!
Until recently, awamori was a beverage that was localized to Japan. However, there have been efforts to introduce it to the American and UK markets, so with any luck, you might be able to try some without having to go too far out of your way!Want to learn more about Japanese cuisine? Swing by our post on what Japanese curry tastes like.