Free Tour of Northern Okinawa Awamori Distillery “Yanbaru Shuzousho”, rich taste from the tropical forest pure water

Awamori is a distilled spirit indigenous to Okinawa, that is not sake,  almost same with Shochu. Awamori is made by the fermentation of indica rice without any other grain with black koji(malt), which is the same koji of Shouchu. You can learn the history and fermentation and distill process of the liquor in the free tour. You can also taste some kinds of Awamori in the factory.

Yanbaru Shuzousho, which I visited this time, is located on the Takazato River in Ogimi Village, and is the northernmost distillery specializing in Awamori founded by local people 70 years ago. Awamori product process use the same method of southern area of Okinawa, but the water is different. In the southern part, the hard water purified by infiltration of Ryukyu limestone is used, whereas in Yanbaru Shuzousho, medium hard water infiltrated through forests and soil that does not contain much limestone is pumped up. It is used as a  water to thin the fermented rice, cooling water for distillation, and to reduce alcohol.

Tour reception and sales office

Entrance of the  distillery, I was guided by Mr. Ikehara, President.

Thai rice is the only cereal that is washed, soaked and drained.

After draining, the 700kg rice is steamed.

Black malt spores are sprinkled evenly on steamed rice. Since the black malt is a strong bacterium, it does not attract other bacteria. then the rice is not spoiled.It is also a very useful bacterium used in a black vinegar made in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The black malt on the factory roof beams gives a sense of the building’s history.

Rice koji made from black koji and steamed rice is mixed with Yanbal water to form “moromi” and fermented slowly under room temperature. A month later, “moromi” had a slightly sweet awamori scent.

The water used for Awamori is sterilized with ultraviolet light. Low temperature pasteurization is widely used so that the taste of freshly squeezed milk is not impaired by heat. Pasteurization is widely used so that the taste of freshly squeezed milk is not impaired by heat. Efforts to preserve the deliciousness of natural water are wonderful.

The fermented moromi is heated, distilled, and blown into a cooling tank through the square pipe in the picture.The water flowing through the cooling tank is also Yanbal water.Because it is distilled at normal pressure, the scent of moromi and various components are contained more than shochu. That will be the source of the taste of Awamori.

The freshly distilled Awamori is aged in storage tanks for over a year and slowly grows mellow.

It was one of the best shochu and Awamori I ever drank. Yanbaru Distillery is a small  business size that is mostly consumed locally. As demand declined due to depopulation. When going to Yanbal, please stop by the Yanbaru Distillery and try delicious Awamori

By Yamada



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