Kuma Shochu is one of the few brands globally recognized for using a geographical name as a distinction, similar to Scotch for whiskey, Bordeaux for wine, and Cognac for brandy.
Kuma Shochu has a history of 500 years and is exclusively designated as “Kuma Shochu” when made from rice produced in Hitoyoshi Kuma, receiving the prestigious “Geographical Indication” designation.
In the Hitoyoshi Kuma region, there are 27 shochu distilleries, with seven of them located in Taragi Town.
Tarakimachi’s Kuma Shochu
These seven distilleries are all unique and have their own individual characteristics.
Takahashi Shuzo Co., Ltd. Taragi Factory
Its sales revenue ranks 7th nationwide (as of 2015) among shochu brands. They market two authentic rice shochu brands, “HAKUTAKE” and “SHIRO,” selling them in Japan and 28 other countries worldwide.
HAKUTAKE is also well-known for being one of the first to adopt the vacuum distillation method, which sets it apart from other shochu varieties.
They are also a sponsor for the soccer J-League team “Roasso Kumamoto” and their uniforms.
Now, we are focusing on product development and branding of distilled spirits made from special quality rice, under the belief that authentic rice shochu can be a representative Japanese liquor along with sake(which is also a distilled spirit made from rice). While preserving the traditions inherited from our establishment 117 years ago, we are publicising our stance on using quality rice (which is a symbol of Japanese culture) as an ingredient of cultural significance, and publicising shochu as something to drink with a meal, through high quality advertisements. We continue to challenge the balance of tradition and innovation by protecting the 500-year-old Kuma Shochu brand, which has obtained.source：KUMA SHOCYU
Kuma no Izumi
Nasu Shuzo Co., Ltd.
Nasu Shuzo was established in the 6th year of the Taisho era. They have upheld traditional production methods and are currently in their 4th generation, persistently crafting shochu by hand. Their flagship brand is “Kuma no Izumi.”
Using locally sourced high-quality rice and pure water as the raw materials, they employ meticulous “Morobuta Koji” method to produce fine rice malt and the “Kame Jikomi” method to impart a deep flavor. Through long-term aging and storage, they continuously refine the classic taste of Kuma Shochu, which is rich, mellow, and combines a delightful sweetness. This strikingly red-labeled shochu has also been selected as a certified product of Kumamoto’s image color, “Kumamoto Red.”source：KUMA SHOCYU
This shochu achieved a remarkable feat by winning the first place in the rice shochu category at the 2013 Spring National Liquor Competition.
In the Kuma region, there is a folk song called “Rokuchoshi,” and its lyrics include the lines “In the rural landlord’s castle town… Manyogi’s Bunzo-ji.”
Bunzo-san is the founder and owner of the distillery.
This distillery retains the essence of a tea house from the Edo period. They have continued to cherish the wisdom and experiences of their predecessors, crafting rice shochu using traditional methods such as handcrafted rice malt, clay jar fermentation, and atmospheric distillation. As a result, they cannot produce a large quantity, but they strive to create shochu with a rich aroma, depth, and full-bodied flavor.source：KUMA SHOCYU
When it comes to rice shochu with a black label, it’s “Bunzo,” known for its atmospheric distillation method.
Fusanotsuyu Co., Ltd.
Kuma Shochu, represented by “Kurahachi,” has aimed not only to preserve traditions but also to deepen its essence in line with the changing times. The distillery is located along National Route 219, formerly known as the “Gokan Road.”
They actively embrace new challenges and never compromise on their pursuit of creating even more delicious shochu. This dedication has been passed down from one brewmaster to another. The skilled techniques, carefully preserved by the brewmasters, blend with their individual sensibilities, giving rise to unique characteristics that breathe new life into the shochu while staying true to tradition.source：KUMA SHOCYU
For those who appreciate the traditional “rich and deep flavor,” this is a perfect choice to enjoy.
For gift-giving purposes, we have “Kuma Mon Illustrated Sweet Potato Shochu” featuring the adorable Kumamon illustration.
Miyamoto Shuzo & Co., Ltd.
Miyamoto Shuzojo is a sake brewery that has been in operation for over 300 years. Their brand name “Kyudaime” reflects the historical significance, representing the ninth generation of the family. They are dedicated to the traditional method of handcrafting, relying on the sake brewer’s senses rather than a thermometer, using wooden barrels and stone chambers for fermentation.
“Kyudaime” offers a well-balanced and exceptional taste with the flavors and sweetness of the rice used as the raw material, providing a smooth and mellow mouthfeel. They achieve this by avoiding reliance on large storage enamel tanks and instead opt for a five-year “kame” (clay jar) aging process. Through these methods, they have created a shochu that closely resembles the characteristics of sake.source：KUMA SHOCYU
If you are seeking a drink with flavors closely resembling Japanese sake and easy drinkability, “Kyudaime” is the perfect choice.
Here is the “Kame Chozo 10-year aged” shochu.
Batsugun Shuzo Co., Ltd.
“Kame Chozo 10-year aged” shochu is created with the goal of being exceptional and allowing you to savor its deliciousness while enjoying the smiles of your family. It’s a truly outstanding shochu that you can savor on a daily basis.
Batsugun Shuzo is located in Taragi Town, Kuma District, which was the base of the Kamisagara family. This town is situated in the southern part of Kumamoto Prefecture and is part of the Kuma Basin, still adorned with lush green countryside landscapes. It is a place that was once praised by the author Shiba Ryotaro as “the most prosperous hidden village in Japan.” Here, they carry the words “tradition” and “challenge” in their hearts as they engage in the art of shochu making.source：Batsugun Shuzo Co., Ltd. Official Site
Aged for 3 years in sherry casks and white oak barrels, this amber-colored shochu.
Here is the evening drinking set consisting of 3 bottles.
Tsunematsu Shuzo Honten Inc.
In Taragi Town, there is a place called Tsuruba, which was once a resting place for cranes. It is here that the Kabushiki Kaisha Tsunematsu Shuzo Honten, founded in the 6th year of the Taisho era, is located.
This shochu brewery is dedicated to preserving the rich natural environment, with a strong focus on water, raw materials, and craftsmanship. They make use of the abundant water flowing from the surrounding mountains and utilize the natural spring water from 100 meters underground. “Water” is one of their key considerations. They also conduct research on the characteristics of koji mold and yeast to develop new flavors. Furthermore, they engage in the art of handcrafting sweet potato shochu, using locally harvested sweet potatoes, adding a unique touch to their production.source：Tsunematsu Shuzo Honten Inc. Official Site
They received a gold medal at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition in 2019.
Here is the rare yellow koji fermentation and reduced-pressure distillation.
If you insist on the traditional method of atmospheric distillation, this is the one.
In addition to this, there are 20 more distilleries in Hitoyoshi and Kuma regions.