With countries slowly opening up their borders, you might very well be itching to see more of the world after being cooped up for so long.  If you get the chance to travel, the first thing you’d need to consider is where you want to go. One of the most popular travel destinations is Japan, and it’s easy to see why. With its rich culture and exciting foods, it has everything needed for a memorable travel experience. But there’s more to Japan than just history and cuisine. Japan also has a whole host of unique alcoholic beverages. Here are our suggestions of 5 Japanese drinks you have to try.

Shochu

Shochu is a traditional hard liquor found in Japan and definitely one of the Japanese drinks you must try. This distilled spirit dates back to the 16th century, where it found its origins on the island of Kyushu.

Shochu starts with a basic fermentation process using water, yeast, and koji (a cultivated mold). It can either be made with a single distillation or consecutive distillation process. The ingredients used can vary, depending on the kind of shochu and the process used to make it, but the most common base ingredients are sugar, sweet potatoes, or buckwheat, which all give shochu its distinctive nutty taste.

Atsukan

Sake (Japanese rice wine) is one of Japan’s most famous and well-loved drinks. While there are many ways of drinking sake, atsukan is one of the Japanese drinks you must try if you ever get the chance.

Japanese drinks you must try

Sake. Photo by Takasuu via iStockPhoto

Atsukan is made by pouring sake into a ceramic container that is then heated from the outside. It is a highly popular drink across Japan, especially during colder seasons. The process of heating sake is known as okan, and it is said to enhance the texture and flavor of the sake. Monitoring the temperature when making atsukan is vital, as the name and type of okan changes along with the temperature. Atsukan is the second hottest okan at 122˚F.

Happoshu

If you’re looking for a less-adventurous but still unique experience, Happoshu might be the way to go. Happoshu is a type of Japanese beer. Although the percentage of malt contained in happoshu can differ depending on the brand, it is generally less than your average beer. Happoshu is therefore considered a low-malt beer, or beer-flavored drink. It is favored among the Japanese since happoshu that contains less than 25% malt is taxed lower than other types of alcohol.

Umeshu

If you’re looking to go the liqueur route, umeshu is one drink you definitely have to experience. The main ingredient is ume plums. Ume plums actually come from the Japanese apricot tree, and are seldom eaten when ripe. The unripe ume plums are steeped in liquor and sugar to make this sour, unique liqueur. It is also often used in various cocktails.

Japanese drinks you must try

The umeshu is a liqueur made with unripe ume plums and is definitely one of the Japanese drinks you won't want to miss. Image by graindivresse via Pixabay

Japanese Whisky

Another option for the more traditional liquor drinker is Japanese whisky. This smoky flavored drink entered the whisky scene with a splash and is gaining popularity every day.

Japanese drinks you must try

Japanese Whisky is making a splash on the spirits scene. Image by Jason Goh via Pixabay

Japanese whisky tends to lean more towards the Scotch tradition and therefore has a different taste than bourbon. Even though it is a Japanese drink, a lot of the ingredients are imported from Scotland so that the taste is more sophisticated and truer to its origins.

We hope you enjoy our suggestions for the 5 Japanese Drinks you have to try. Be sure to check out Wander for more wine and spirit suggestions. We also have more ideas for you to consider if you plan to travel to Japan.

One of the most popular travel destinations is Japan, and it’s easy to see why. With its rich culture and exciting foods, it has everything needed for a memorable travel experience. But there’s more to Japan than just history and cuisine. Japan also has a whole host of unique alcoholic beverages. Here are our suggestions of 5 Japanese drinks you have to try.

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