Distillery: TARAGAWA SHUZO
Koji: Black Koji
Available in USA: Yes
Ryukyu Ohcho Awamori is another name that doesn’t translate fantastically into English. In Japanese, both u’s and o’s should be emphasized. This is classically spelled in english by adding a u after the vowel. In this case the distiller chose to use an h, and do so for only 1 of the 4 held vowels. We’ll follow the distiller’s spelling, but be prepared for subtle variation when coming across this awamori online or in menus.
Like most brands of awamori, Ryukyu Ohcho is made from Thai style long grain rice and black koji. The result is a flavor that is predictable for those who are familiar with awamori. The one unique trait of Ryukyu Ohcho is the fact that it is aged at least 5 years in clay pots. Though aging in other liquors tends to mellow the experience, the end result of Ryukyu Ohcho is a full flavor from start to finish. At times I picked up a dash of Jagermeister and I could really taste the rice in the finish. Taragawa Distillers recommends having Ryukyu with just water, but I found it enjoyable on the rocks.
Ryukyu Ohcho Awamori isn’t incredibly easy to find because outside of Zuisen, generally Awamori is even less common than shochu. It is carried by the large LA based distributor JFC. I’ve not found this awamori in any retail locations, either online or in person. The one location that does carry it is Shochu Bar Hatchan in Midtown Manhattan as they seem to carry almost all of the JFC brands. For those who bring their shochu back from Japan and like their shochu, this bottle is well worth being 1 of the 2 bottles you can bring through customs.