American Spirits and Cocktail Lovers Embrace Shochu, The National Spirit of Japan, at NYC’S Astor Center

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Consumer and Trade Events Hosted by JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) and JSS (the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association) Included Walk-Around Tasting and Seminar by Noted Mixologist Junior Merino

The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JSS) successfully hosted ‘Experience Shochu, the National Spirit of Japan,’ a series of exciting events in New York during the month of February. Along with restaurant promotions and a party showcasing Shochu and Awamori during Fashion Week, a special day of tastings and a trade seminar featuring Junior Merino of the Liquid Chef took place at the Astor Center, a veritable wine and spirits institution in its own right. Hundreds of press and trade attended the afternoon event, which was followed by a consumer tasting in the evening that attracted upwards of 400 Shochu and Awamori enthusiasts and converts.

JETRO and JSS partnered with restaurants for a variety of tasting promotions on Sunday, February 12th as part of NY Shochu Night Out. Participating restaurants were Inakaya (231 W 40th Street), Robataya (231 E 9th Street) and Sakagura (211 E 43rd Street B1F). During the evening, free Shochu tastings were offered for dinning guests.

On Monday, February 13th, JETRO hosted a day of Shochu and Awamori tastings at the Astor Center featuring 16 Shochu and Awamori producers. The walk around tastings (with a trade/press audience in the afternoon and a consumer event in the evening) highlighted leading artisan Japanese producers. Attendees were given the opportunity to taste a variety of Shochu and Awamori from each producer and talk to the spirit makers. During the afternoon tasting, trade and media were invited to an hour long seminar led by noted mixologist Junior Merino. The participants in the seminar found the discussion of Shochu and Awamori history, production and versatility as a neat spirit and cocktail ingredient to be insightful and interesting.

“Shochu is a great spirit with a rich history,” said Junior Merino. “The different flavors within Shochu and Awamori lend themselves to interesting cocktail creations. I had a lot of fun making three signature drinks to further exemplify the versatility of Shochu and Awamori in today’s American market.”

“Shochu has always been an integral part of our food and drinking culture. We were excited to introduce this to Americans who are eager to learn and try new things,” said Atsushi Semimoto, Executive Director of JETRO New York. “Americans are forward thinking and have more recently focused on a growing cocktail and spirits culture, and Shochu fits within that category.”

Shochu and Awamori have seen a surge of popularity in the last decade. Japanese cuisine has remained a prominent favorite of foodies around the nation. Due to the growing interest in Japanese culture, cuisine and cocktail creation, JETRO and JSS found this year to be a great one to formally introduce Shochu and Awamori to the American population.

Shochu has been a pillar of Japanese culture, but this historical spirit remains a mystery to many in the United States. JETRO and JSS completed the task to educate and excite Americans to not only learn about Shochu, but taste the quality and uniqueness of the spirit and its ability to be enjoyed neat or in a cocktail.

The 16 producers and their labels featured at the Astor Center tastings were as follows:


・Amaou-Umeshu Amaou-Hajimemashita

・Ark Jakuunbaku
・Kintaro Mugi Shochu- Roasted Barley
・Tsukushi Mugishocyu- Black Label
・Tsukushi Mugi Shocyu - White Label

・Barley Shochu IKI

・Yama No Mori Shochu


・Hakutake Shiro

・Iichiko Special
・Iichiko Frasco
・Iichiko Kurobin
・Iichiko Silhouette
・Iichiko Seirin

・Kozuru Kuro
・Kura No Shikon
・Window's Mugiichi
・Window's Migaki

・Satsuma Shiranami
・Kuro Shirnami
・Satsuma Otome
・Kuradashi Genshu
・Kohaku No Yume
・Mugiwara Boushi

・Fukiage Mugi

・Satsuma Godai
・Satsuma Kurogodai
・Satsuma Godai Umeshu

・Kappa no Sasoi-mizu
・Hebess Cool

Kumejima's Kumesen    
・Kumejima's Kumesen
・Aragoshi Kumi's Umeshu

・Zuisen Hakuryu

・Ryukyu Ohcho

About the Japan External Trade Organization
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. JETRO has seventy two offices in fifty-five countries, as well as six branches in the United States, located in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Established in 1958 to promote Japanese exports, today JETRO's mandate includes encouraging overseas businesses to bring their operations to Japan, thereby stimulating healthy competition, providing new employment opportunities, and helping to improve Japan’s overall economy. For companies in the US looking to expand or differentiate their product offerings, JETRO showcases premium goods that are uniquely Japanese. For additional information please visit

About the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association
The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JJS) is a nationwide brewers’ association that works to educate about the different types and processes involved in making Sake and Shochu. For more information, please visit


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Dana Polonsky
Colangelo & Partners Public Relations
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