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Awamori that Can Be Used as Disinfectant
post : 2020.10.08 19:00
During the days we saw the shelves emptied of disinfectant supplies in the stores for some time, the local Awamori distillers decided to do something about it. They re-distilled the Awamori to increase the alcohol percentage so that they can also be used as sanitizers. At Takaesu Shuhan, a liquor store that’s been in business in Ginowan for 60 years, you’ll find 14 types of disinfectant alcohol produced by Awamori distillers from throughout Okinawa. The owner, Yoshinari Takaesu, is a true lover of Awamori who holds qualifications as an Awamori Meister and strongly believes that “Awamori will some day be recognized as one of the world’s finest spirits”. For this article, he kindly shared some details on these bottles of Awamori with high alcohol content.
A licensed Awamori Meister is recognized by the Governor of Okinawa as an expert in the field of Awamori, and Yoshinari Takaesu was one of those who were certified in the very first year of this program. He is also a director of Ryukyu Awamori Club which was founded by those who shared the passion. “Up to now, we weren’t able to label spirits with over 45% alcohol content as ‘Awamori’ even if the ingredients and production methods were the same. We had to label them as ‘Genryo-yo Alcohol’ (material alcohol or brewer’s alcohol). We had many people in the industry saying that that name didn’t offer such a good impression as an alcoholic beverage. But as of April 1, we were permitted to label these spirits as Awamori, even if the alcohol content exceeded 45%. This is why most of the high alcohol content that you see on sale now are labeled ‘Awamori’.”
Among the products, there are some with labels that say “not for drinking”, which are sold without liquor tax under the special measures implemented by the national government. These are not sold as “Awamori” nor “brewer’s alcohol”, but as “high-concentration ethanol products” and are specifically for disinfecting and not for drinking. The high alcohol volume Awamori that have been introduced to the market range greatly from 65 - 80% alcohol content, and alcohol-based disinfectants that we see in stores are mostly in the 60s and 70s in their alcohol content. The recommended percentage is 70 - 83% to effectively sanitize. For legal reasons, alcohol shipped out from Okinawa to the rest of Japan must be under 70%, and so, Awamori that are over 70% in alcohol volume are only available within Okinawa Prefecture.
Now, let’s introduce some of the products, starting with those from distillers located in the central and southern regions of Okinawa Island: starting from the left in the above photo is CHUKO 65% (65% alcohol volume, 360ml, ¥797) by Chuko Shuzo Distillery in Tomigusuku City; next is a vodka and not Awamori, VODKA 66% (66% alcohol volume, 700ml, ¥1,595) by Masahiro Shuzo Distillery in Itoman City (mail order available); Material Alcohol 80 (80% alcohol volume, 720ml, ¥2,500) by Ishikawa Shuzo Distillery in Nishihara Town; ALC 78 (78% alcohol volume, 360ml, ¥1,265) by Zuisen Shuzo Distillery in Shuri, Naha City; and Alcohol 78 (78% alcohol volume, 300ml, ¥1,320) by Kumesen Shuzo Distillery in Naha City.
Next, for products made by distillers in and north of Uruma City on Okinawa Island: starting from the left is Kamimura 75 (75% alcohol volume, 360ml, ¥693) by Kamimura Shuzo Distillery in Uruma City; Syu Syu 77% (77% alcohol volume, 720ml, ¥2,200) by Sakiyama Shuzo Sho Distillery in Kin Town; RYUSEN 75 (75% alcohol volume, 600ml, ¥2,300) by Ryusen Shuzo Distillery in Nago City; and Ryukyu 77 (77% alcohol volume, 300ml, ¥1,100) by Shinzato Shuzo Distillery in Uruma City.
Also, for products made by distillers in the Yaeyama Islands, from the left is YAESEN 77 (77% alcohol volume, 750ml, ¥2,600) by Yaesen Shuzo Distillery in Ishigaki City; SEIFUKU 77 (77% alcohol volume, 600ml, ¥3,080) by Seifuku Shuzo Distillery in Ishigaki City; 78 % Nanakorobi Yaoki (78% alcohol volume, 600ml, ¥2,600) by Sakimoto Shuzo Distillery in Yonaguni Town; and also from Sakimoto Shuzo is their 78 % Oni Goroshi (78% alcohol volume, 360ml, ¥1,760).
There are several other types available on the market, but you’ll find these 13 varieties at Takaesu Shuhan liquor store. Among these, the 65% from Chuko Shuzo Distillery and the 66% from Masahiro Shuzo Distillery, as well as a type from Kumesen Shuzo (67% alcohol volume, 500ml, ¥1,430) that wasn’t introduced in the photos, are all available by mail order to the rest of Japan from Takaesu Shuhan (all other products are not available for mail order).
“These bottles were made because of the times we live in now, and some Awamori lovers are picking up each brand since they’re new and such bottles haven’t been produced before. Since Awamori’s raw ingredients include rice, these sanitizers are easy on the skin and leaves it moisturized,” says Takaesu-san.
These Awamori were produced as sanitizers to meet the demand of the times, but I really look forward to the days when we can all enjoy getting together and drinking Awamori again.
[Takaesu Shuhan (Liquor Store) Co., Ltd.]
Address: 2-27-20 Nodake, Ginowan City, Okinawa
Hours: 10:00 to 23:00
(Note: Awamori with less than 70% alcohol volume can be purchased by mail order.)
*Prices in this article are current as of May 2020.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Hiroshi Kuwamura