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- Product Specification of Geographical Indication “琉球（Ryukyu）”
Ⅰ Matters relating the characteristics of liquor which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin
- (a) Characteristics of liquor
- (1) Sensory factor
“Ryukyu,” which is a pot still distilled liquor made by distillation of fermented mash made from rice koji using the black koji mold and water as ingredients, has a robust flavor from the optimal amount of oil originating from the rice koji used as an ingredient. Products made from the traditional atmospheric distillation have a pleasant aroma, while products made from reduced-pressure distillation have the flavor of fruits such as apples and bananas. In particular, aged liquors (stored three years or longer) made from atmospheric-distillation have a rich and deep aroma, a harmony of a sweet vanilla aroma from the components from the rice broken down by the enzymes from the black koji mold and the aroma of Matsutake mushrooms.
- (2) Microbiological factor
The academic name for the black koji mold (Aspergillus luchuensis) used in “Ryukyu” is a name originating in Ryukyu, and specified as a National Fungi.
“Ryukyu” uses only rice koji made using black koji mold, and water and yeast are added to the rice koji and fermented, with the whole koji preparation being a traditional production technique unique to Ryukyu and passed down through generations in Okinawa prefecture. It is this technique that gives “Ryukyu” its sensory elements, including a rich and deep aroma and robust flavor.
- (b) Essential attribution of its geographical origin to characteristics of liquor
- (1) Natural factor
Okinawa prefecture is in the Ryukyu Islands to the south-west of the Japanese archipelago and has been an important trading port in East Asia since old times. With its subtropical climate come high temperatures, high humidity and significant rainfall. In sake brewing in such climate, the possibility of spoiling due to unwanted bacteria in the fermentation of moromi is high. However, the black koji mold which forms a high amount of citric acid compared to other koji molds maintains good fermentation, and the various components formed by this black koji mold give “Ryukyu” its unique characteristics.
In addition, the Ryukyu limestone belt runs through Okinawa, and the water is hard water with abundant mineral content, and as the climate is hot, the microorganisms (black koji mold and yeast) are active, creating a complex and rich flavor.
- (2) Human factor
The history of production of “Ryukyu” is long and there are several theories about the history of the production techniques. Because there are similarities with the production methods of distilled liquors used by the trading partners of the Ryukyu kingdom, it is said that various techniques were introduced over 500 years ago from South-east Asia or the Chinese continent through cultural exchange which conformed to the weather and culture of Ryukyu are the origin for Ryukyu’s unique traditional production method.
“Ryukyu” is also called as “Ryukyu Awamori” or “Awamori.” There are many different theories about the origin of these names. Some say that the name, “Awamori(literally, bubbles that rise and swell),” which has an alcoholic percentage of over 40% immediately after distillation, came from the way bubbles are formed in a container when the liquor is poured from a height to measure the alcoholic content. Awamori with a particularly high alcohol percentage is also called, “Hanazake” (literally, flower sake), since the bubbles in the container are layered, looking like as if flowers are in full bloom.
“Ryukyu” has a culture of being matured after distillation over the years. Ryukyu that has been aged for at least three years is called, “kusu (aged shochu).” Whisky or other liquors are generally stored in barrels and matured as they obtain the fragrance component of barrels. “Ryukyu,” on the other hand, is stored in jars and bottles and matured as the flavor component contained in the sake itself goes through physical and chemical changes. Thus, Ryukyu is characterized by its ongoing maturity even after being packed in a container and put on the market. At the geographical origin, the culture and techniques of nurturing “Ryukyu” into “kusu” by consumers by themselves, called “shitsugi” (sake making) has been established.
Ⅱ Matters relating to ingredients and production method of liquor
It is necessary for the following criteria to be satisfied in order to use the geographical indication “Ryukyu”.
- (a) Ingredients
- (1) Only rice koji made using the black koji mold belonging to Aspergillus luchuensis is used for the rice koji.
- (2) Water collected in Okinawa prefecture is used for the water.
- (b) Production method
- (1) Fermentation of ingredients and distillation is performed in Okinawa prefecture. r
- (2) Moromi made by fermenting the ingredients of rice koji and water is distilled in a pot still.
- (3) If it is stored in the production process, storage is in Okinawa prefecture.
- (4) The product is filled in Okinawa prefecture in the containers in which it will be delivered to consumers.
Ⅲ Matters relating to management for maintaining the characteristics of liquors
In order to use the geographical indication “Ryukyu”, it is necessary to receive confirmation from the following organization (hereinafter “Control Body”) in accordance with the Work Implementation Guidelines prepared by such Control Body, regarding whether or not the liquor for which such geographical indication will be used satisfies the “Matters Relating to Ingredients and Production Method of Liquor”.
Name of Control Body: GI Ryukyu Management Committee
Address: Okinawa Awamori Distillers Association,
8-9, 2-chome Minato-machi, Naha City, Okinawa prefecture
Phone number: 098-868-3727
Ⅳ Matters relating liquor classes
Pot distillation shochu(Article 3, Item10 of the Liquor Tax Act), material alcohol(Article 3, Item17 of the Liquor Tax Act)