The Shochu Handbook - An Introduction to Japan's Indigenous Distilled Drink (英語) ペーパーバック – 2014/7/22
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For hundreds of years, shochu and awamori have dwelled near the center of Japan's vaunted culinary traditions. Despite outselling most other alcoholic beverages in Japan, however, these premium distilled treats have largely remained hidden from the rest of the world. But that is beginning to change. Written by licensed sommelier and longtime Japan resident, Christopher Pellegrini, The Shochu Handbook is the first major reference published on the subject in a language other than Japanese. Illustrated with dozens of beautiful photographs, the book covers everything from how distilled beverages arrived in Japan to a step-by-step overview of the distilling process. There are also detailed chapters devoted to deciphering bottle labels, food pairing, serving styles, and speaking the language of these divine drinks. Packed with information, The Shochu Handbook also includes an extensive list of recommended bottles, a chapter devoted to cocktail and homemade liqueur recipes, and Japanese-English language assistance for everything from ordering shochu in a bar to telling the difference between single-distilled and multiple-distilled drinks. This book is essential for Japanese food enthusiasts, restauranteurs, distributors, journalists, retailers, beverage professionals, and everyone in between.
Pellegrini is the perfect person to bring shochu to the rest of us. There is no one in the English-speaking world who shares his rare combination of knowledge, experience, qualifications, and - of the utmost importance - ability to meaningfully share that knowledge and experience with his audience.
That "The Shochu Handbook" is packed with helpful information is to be expected. The added bonus is that it is well-written, too. In a tone both erudite and conversational, Pellegrini manages to make the complex elements of shochu's production and service easily understandable and to make every section of the book delightful - I found myself reading pairing suggestions on the subway and enjoying it (and I'm really not much of a cook or host at all).
As the shochu world grows and evolves, I'll be looking forward to future editions of "The Shochu Handbook" or its successors.
I lived and worked in Japan at トヨタ自動車 (Toyota). I am an ASP Certified Sake Professional (Sake Education Council). As of January 3, 2016 I have sampled over 359 日本酒 Nihonshu (sake) and 43 kinds of awamori and shochu. I find The Shochu Handbook to be very helpful. It is a topic that needs advocates, such as, Mr. Pellegrini to better inform us sakenomi 酒飲み (酒/焼酎 enthusiasts.). I applaud your efforts, Christopher Pellegrini. Note: You can purchase several shochu from Rick and Hiroko Smith at Sakayanyc.com. I recommend Kan no Ko 神の河 麦焼酎 (mugi shochu), Satsuma Hozan Imo (sweet potato), 泡盛 Hiryu 飛龍 Zuisen 瑞泉, and 泡盛 Hakuryu 白龍 Zuisen 瑞泉, all of them mentioned in the book.
LaMonte Heflick, author Pup Fiction Books (rempub.com) and Certified Advanced Sake Professional (ASP), Sake Education Council Feb 2014.
If you're interested in tasting shochu after reading the book, buy a air ticket to Tokyo and leave some room in your suitcase to bring a few bottles home ;)