Beer, wine, whiskey, bourbon, vodka, rum, tequila, and gin represent most of the traditional alcohol consumed in this country, either straight or as a key ingredient in our favorite cocktail. However, there is a whole other spirits category that is Japan’s greatest secret. It is not sake, but rather an incredibly diverse spirit named sochu. On this episode I speak with Christopher Pellegrini, who started out brewing American beer in Vermont and now lives in Japan where his mission is to pull back the curtain on this type of spirit – for the world’s enjoyment!
Christopher Pellegrini cut his teeth in alcohol as a teen brewer at Otter Creek Brewing Company in Middlebury, Vermont. He discovered shochu and awamori after moving to Tokyo while he was a full-time professor at Waseda University. In 2014, he published the first ever English language guide to shochu and awamori, The Shochu Handbook. He also contributed to The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, published in 2021. Christopher launched Honkaku Spirits in March 2020 (great timing, huh?) with the mission of bringing intensely artisanal Japanese spirits to discerning consumers worldwide. He also co-hosts two podcasts focused on the education of Japanese spirits: Japan Distilled and Sake on Air. Fluent in English and Japanese (conversational in Spanish and Korean), Christopher’s contribution to increasing global knowledge of Japanese spirits continues to shape opinion on this burgeoning category.