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HOME IZAKAYA: The Best Japanese Shochu To Make Lemon Sour (Lemon Chu-Hi) AT HOME

The Best Japanese Shochu To Make Lemon Sour (Lemon Chu-Hi) At Home Food & Recipes

If you are wondering which Japanese Shochu to get to make Japanese Izakaya sour at home, this post can help you to choose the best shochu.

Generally, in Japan, reasonable Korui Shochu is preferred to make the casual Izakaya drink at home.

Korui Shochu is not only reasonable but also has a clear taste that combines well with citrus juice

Lemon sour is one of the popular cocktails to enjoy at home, and the clear smooth, and not expensive Shochu is preferred.

However, when we live in countries outside Japan, it’s hard to get such reasonable Korui Shochu (so I use vodka instead).

Even Korui shochu is reasonable and clear taste, “authentic” Otsurui shochu more selected raw materials and deep flavor in it.

So, in this post, I will share which Shochu you should get to make authentic lemon sour at home.

What’s Japanese Shochu

  • Shochu is the traditional distilled spirit
  • It has a variety of raw materials and taste differs depending on the ingredients and the distilling process
  • The average alcohol content level is 25%
  • Shochu is generally served diluted with other liquids

Shochu is the traditional distilled liquor, made from a variety of raw materials, such as Japanese sweet potatoes, sugar cane, and barley.

For all the different types of Shochu spirits, there are lots of styles depending on raw materials and processes.

Awamori, the famous local Shochu in Okinawa, is said it is the oldest Shochu made in Japan.

The most popular Shochu that you can see in your local, probably, these types of Shochu,

  • Mugi Shochu
  • Kome Shochu
  • Imo Shochu
  • Awamori
  • Honkaku Shochu

If you want to dive into the Japanese Shochu world, please check out this post later.

Its alcohol content varies from about 25% to 40% alcohol by volume.

Shochu Is Not Whiskey, Not Sake

Shochu is a distilled spirit as I said, and it’s more like whisky, gin, or vodka when speaking of which category Shochu goes in.

What differences between malt whiskey and barley shochu are

  • Taste
  • Color
  • Enzymes
  • Distillation process

Whiskey and Shochu are in the same category, however, they are very different spirits.

I would call it “Japanese vodka” sometimes since barley and rice shochu have a clear, light, smooth taste more like vodka.

Besides, the Alcohol content level in Shochu is less than in vodka, so barely/rice shochu is milder and sweeter than vodka.

Shochu made of sugar cane is also called “Japanese rum” for the same reason.

Japanese Sake is fermented more like wine and brewed more like Beer.

Also, sake must be made from rice while Shochu can be made of anything, literally, anything.

What’s the Difference From Korean Shochu

Korean shochu is called “Soju”, which is a clear distilled spirit like Japanese Shochu.

Japanese shochu is a commonly grain/vegetables-based distilled spirit, such as rice, barley, and potato, and the raw materials are specified depending on the Shochu products.

On the other hand, Korean soju is made of multiple starch-based ingredients such as rice, barley, sweet potato, tapioca, and corn, and the ingredients are not specified.

Generally, among popular shochu and soju, ABV in Korean Shochu is lower than in Japanese shochu.
Most Japanese shochu is 20%- 25% ABV, and some Honkaku Shochu can be close to 50%.

On the other hand, ABV in most Korean soju is 15%-20%.

There are fruit-flavored soju products with lower alcohol content, and it’s a clear, sweet taste that is easy to drink as itself.

Contrary, Japanese Shochu is often diluted with water, fizzy water which is called Chu-Hi, soda pops, and fruit juice.

The Best Japanese Shochu For Lemon Sour

Getting to the point first, I recommend Mugi Shochu and Kome Shochu since these shochu has clear, light, mild-sweet, and smooth flavor and combine well with fresh lemon flavors.

  • Mugi Shochu is made of barley
  • Kome Shochu is made of rice

Also, Kokuto Shochu (made of brown sugar) is very nice to make Lemon sour. The sweet flavor in Kokuto Shochu goes well with fresh sour lemon.

Contrary, Imo Shochu(Jochu) and Awamori can not be the best shochu to make lemon sour since it has a strong unique flavor that will not go well with lemon flavor.

  • Yokaichi (Mugi)
  • Iichiko
  • Yokaichi (Kome)
  • Lento

Kinmiya Shochu Is Also The Best Shochu For Lemon Sour

Kinmiya Shochu became one of the staple shochu to make lemon sour at home in Japan, and also it’s available in the US.

To be precise, Kinmiya shochu is categorized differently shochu from other Japanese shochu as I mentioned.

There are two categories of Shochu products-Otsurui shochu and Ko(u)rui Shochu.

Otsurui Shochu is distilled only once to keep the flavor of raw materials (such as rice, wheat, and potatoes) in the spirit.

On the other hand, Ko(u)rui Shochu is distilled multiple times to increase the alcohol content.

Because of multiple distillations, the flavor gets clear and it becomes alcohol easy to drink or make cocktails.

Thus, Kinmiya Shochu is categorized in Ko(u) rui Shochu, and its sweetness gets attention to make the best lemon sour in Japan.

A shochu made from sugar cane. Light and smooth.

Considering the availability and the price, Kinmiya can be the best to make lemon sour.

However, to enjoy it itself as Shochu, Otsuru Shochu is a much better taste than Korui Shochu.

*The photo…KINKAN SOUR


Imo shochu is an authentic shochu made from sweet potatoes. The flavor and aroma vary depending on raw materials, production areas, the type of koji, and the difference in distillation and aging processes.

Therefore, compared to other authentic shochu such as barley shochu and rice shochu, it has a unique stronger sweetness and a mellow and rich taste.

Due to the strong aroma derived from the raw materials, it often keeps away from shochu beginners.

But in recent years, there have been a number of brands that bring out the fruity and refreshing potato shochu that suppresses the unique aroma and flavors.

Imo shochu seems not suitable to make a cocktail with citrus juice since the astringency may stand out, yet, it may depend on the Shoshu brand and is up to your taste.

The Bottom Line

Considering the cost performance, Kinmiya shochu is the best Japanese Shochu to make the best lemon sour.

However, Yokaichi (mugi & kome) is better if you also want to enjoy the original shochu flavor in lemon sour and enjoy the shochu as it is.

Lemon sour is a classic casual drink in Japan, so I normally don’t use top-shelf Shochu (like Honkaku shochu) for making it at home.

Honestly, I use vodka to make lemon sour at home.

So, up to you!

If you want to know how to make lemon sour using lemon-infused vodka, please check out this post or

watch my cooking channel.

How To Make Lemon Sour At Home

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