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TITLE: The Shochu Handbook: An Introduction to
Japan’s Indigenous Distilled Drink
AUTHOR: Christopher Pellegrini
PUBLISHER: Telemachus Press
DATE OF PUBLICATION: July 22, 2014
RETAIL PRICE: US$24.95 (Paperback); US$9.95 (eBook)
(Longform copy for websites, blog posts, newsletters, etc.)
“The Shochu Handbook: An Introduction to Japan’s Indigenous Distilled Drink”
Shochu and awamori expert, Christopher Pellegrini, has published the first comprehensive English-language book on Japan’s little-known but hugely popular spirits, shochu and awamori. If you count yourself as a fan of Japanese cuisine, then this is the perfect time to bring yourself up to speed on the country’s next contribution to restaurants, bars, lounges, and clubs around the world.
Shochu and awamori are everywhere in Japan, outselling saké at home for more than a decade, but they are still rarely seen overseas. That will soon change as the drink’s exhaustive food-pairing options become better known abroad, and mixologists discover the potential of a spirit that is made from more than 50 types of grain and vegetable. Pellegrini’s easy-to-read primer on shochu and awamori helps reveal the history, production methods, and serving styles of these time-honored liquors while clearly explaining how they differ from other popular drinks such as vodka, Korean soju, and saké.
“The Shochu Handbook” includes tasting and pairing notes for industry professionals, bottle recommendations for first-timers, little-known trivia and serving suggestions for shochu fans, and a bilingual chapter on Japanese expressions for navigating izakaya and bottle shops.
Let Christopher Pellegrini, a Certified Shochu Sommelier (SSI), guide you through the intricacies of Japan’s spirit.
(Shortform copy for blurbs.)
A quiet and constant contributor to Japan’s culinary landscape, the distilled spirits shochu and awamori have long flown under the international radar. But as many shochu brands begin to spread their wings overseas, a complete lack of information was revealed. Enter Christopher Pellegrini, a Certified Shochu Sommelier (SSI) based in Tokyo, who has just published the first comprehensive English-language resource on the subject. Pellegrini will teach you everything you need to know in his new book The Shochu Handbook: An Introduction to Japan’s Indigenous Distilled Drink.
Christopher Pellegrini happened upon shochu more than a decade ago, and his curiosity was piqued by the dearth of published information about it. Many years of distillery visits, palate refining, and test taking later, he became one of the few Certified Shochu Sommelier (SSI) and Certified Shochu Adviser (SSA) to be born outside of Japan. He now spends his time conducting shochu and awamori tastings, writing for various food and drink publications, and consulting restaurants, bars, and distributors on how to bring these drinks into the fold.
A native of Vermont, Christopher was an accomplished pole vaulter and spent several years working for Otter Creek Brewing where he eventually inhabited the night brewing shift. Little did he know that his experience making good beer would lead him to a career in another high quality drink thousands of miles away. After a year in Spain and two in South Korea, Christopher moved to Tokyo, Japan in 2002, where a distinct lack of craft beer sent him straight into shochu’s open arms.
He has since found a home talking about Japanese food and drinks for an international audience. In addition to writing about shochu and awamori for the Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, he is the host of Japan Booze Blind and Ishokudogen, two web series that cater to Japan’s culinary fans around the world. Christopher holds an MA in language education from University College London’s Institute of Education, and is the English translator of the survival Japanese textbook Konnichiwa, Nihongo! He has also been published in print and online outlets such as Koe and Global Insider.
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Japan’s Best Kept Culinary Secret
The land of the rising sun has given the world a seemingly endless supply of delicious and healthy treats. Everything from sushi to saké can be found in cities across the globe. But have you ever heard of shochu? Shochu, a distilled spirit that has been made in Japan for centuries, actually outsells saké on its home turf, but it is still largely unknown in other countries. So what is shochu, and why do people love it so much? You’ll find out in this interview with one of the world’s few non-Japanese, licensed shochu sommelier.
Japanese Shochu Appearing in Cocktails Worldwide
Mixologists have a new tool in their arsenal–shochu. The mid-weight spirit from Japan clocks in at about 25% alcohol by volume, and premium versions are single-distilled from more than four dozen different grains and vegetables. The resulting flavor spectrum is impossibly diverse, and bartenders are finding new ways to leverage the drink’s flexibility with a delicious array of other ingredients. You’re probably wondering how shochu differs from other classic cocktail ingredients like vodka and gin, so in this interview Christopher Pellegrini helps us get our heads around Japan’s most recent export.
Sample Interview Questions
- What is shochu? What is awamori?
- How is shochu different from saké/nihonshu?
- What caused you to become interested in shochu and awamori?
- Why is shochu still relatively unknown outside of Japan?
- How is shochu made?
- How would you describe shochu’s flavor?
- Does it pair well with food?
- In what ways is shochu served in Japan?
- How do you like to drink shochu?
- Is it popular in Japan?
- Where can I buy shochu in countries outside of Japan?
Recent Media (print)
Japan Times (2016)
Fukuoka Now (2016)
HAVESPI Blog (2016)
Recent Interviews (video)
English language interview (2015)
Japanese language interview (2015)