Awamori, the most popular spirit in Okinawa, is distilled liquor made from indica rice and black koji mold. It is said to have come to Japan from several routes including Thailand and China in the 14th to 15th century.
Awamori has a distinct feature of improving with aging, just like wine. After brewing, the liquor is put in a tank, jar, oak barrel and other containers, and placed in a maturing chamber or cave. Those aged over three years is valued and allowed to be called kusu.
Awamori is low in calories and less fattening, refreshes the blood flow, and helps digestion—so if taken by moderate amount, it would be the best of all medicines.
Kara-kara is recommended for serving awamori. The name originates from the sound some vessels make when poured empty, because of the marble inside. There are some unique types of kara-kara, such as those that pour out only a mouthful at a time, or designed with a shisa, the guardian of the Okinawa region. The traditional liquor vessel makes the awamori taste even better.
Japanese Cuisine Yamazato
Sommelier, Masao Okada