Oita is in the goldilocks zone for Japanese alcohol production. We are both the southernmost sake manufacturing point in the country and the northern most shōchū manufacturing point. Mugi (wheat/barley) shōchū from Oita is particularly famous throughout Japan.
Shōchū is a type of Japanese alcohol that originated in Kyushu and it is most often made from rice, barley/wheat, sweet potatoes, buckwheat or brown sugar, although other varieties exist. It is typically weaker than standard strength whisky and vodka but is more than wine and sake. However, shōchū that has been distilled multiple times can be stronger than whisky/vodka so it is recommended that you check the alcohol content. It can be served in various ways including straight, mixed with water (either hot or cold), mixed with oolong tea or juice and more. People in Oita will often squeeze fresh kabosu into shōchū before drinking as well. Sake is sometimes referred to as rice wine, and is made by fermenting polished rice. While in English it is referred to as a wine, the brewing process is more similar to beer – where the starches are converted first to sugar and then to alcohol. You will also hear it referred to as nihonshu which means Japanese liquor. It is the national beverage of Japan.
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