In episode 68 of the Japan Distilled podcast, Stephen puts Christopher on the spot with an impromptu spirits evaluation.
CHRISTOPHER PELLEGRINI Vermont born and bred, long-time Tokyo resident and author of The Shochu Handbook, Christopher learned about delicious fermentations as a beer brewer at Otter Creek (Middlebury, VT). He now spends most of his waking hours convincing strangers that shochu and awamori are unlike anything they’ve ever tried before.
STEPHEN LYMAN discovered Japan’s indigenous spirits at an izakaya in New York City. He was so enthralled that he now lives in Japan and works in a tiny craft shochu distillery every autumn. His first book, The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks, was nominated for a 2020 James Beard Award.
Stephen and Christopher both judge for spirits competitions.
If you have any comments or questions about this episode, please reach out to Stephen or Christopher via Twitter. We would love to hear from you.
Christopher and Stephen were able to record in person for the first time ever in Stephen’s home studio in Fukuoka. Stephen commemorated the moment by lining up 6 blind tastes of clear spirits of unknown provenance and had Christopher judge them as if he were in a spirits evaluation session. Hilarity did ensue.
For those following along at home, the 6 samples were:
Jinro Fresh Korean Soju (16% ABV)
Miisha Vodka from Japan (40% ABV)
Jing Xiao Bai Baijiu from China ($40% ABV)
Hakutake Shiro Rice Shochu (25% ABV)
Kinmiya Korui Shochu (25% ABV)
Inugami “Shochu” from Brewdog’s Distillery
The verdict can be heard on the episode. One might have an outside chance for a medal depending on the circumstances.
Christopher and Stephen also discussed how to judge spirits. Well, mostly Christopher. Eyes, nose, mouth.