Awamori famous for aroma and taste : Harusame Karii ”Miyazato Shuzo”

Awamori famous for aroma and taste : Harusame Karii
”Miyazato Shuzo”

Finest of awamori made from black malt and Indica rice

Miyazato Shuzo was founded 60 years ago, and has been making Ryukyu awamori labels like ”Harusame”. Among them, ”Harusame Karii” is something of a legend, and was the drink served at the Okinawa Summit. ”The biggest feature of awamori is in the use of black rice malt”, explained Toru Miyazato, the president of Miyazato Distillery. It is because black rice malt mold produces a lot of citric acid, which keeps other germs from spreading. It is ideal for the warm climate of Okinawa. Miyazato showed us the ingredients of black rice malt, the black malt and Indica rice from Thailand. The minute we stepped inside the distillery, we could smell the fragrance of rice malt in the air. ”Smells good,” commented Nakata. We followed Miyazato and learned about the brewing process.

Fermenting black rice malt

For seeding malt, a big metal barrel has been used since 1971. Seeding is done by sprinkling spores of black rice malt on steamed rice. Once the temperature of steamed rice drops to 48 degrees Celsius, black rice malt is sprayed on it and then left overnight. Then, it is mixed in the tank with water and yeast in a certain ratio for fermentation. When we took a look at the fermentation process, it was bubbling vigorously. ”Fermentation looks totally different from that of Japanese ”sake”,” exclaimed Nakata who couldn’t hide his surprise. After fermenting in the tank for about 2 weeks, it will go through the distillation process.

Producing raw awamori using an original atmospheric distillation unit

Next step is putting the fermented mash into the distillation unit for heating. What’s gathered from the alcohol vapor that is cooled by cooling water, becomes the unrefined spirit. The distillation pot was an unusual one, designed by Miyazato and the former president, to place pipings installed to fit the shape of the pot to bring out the best features of the mash. There is a coil in the pipe, and cool water flows in it to cool down the undiluted awamori vapor. It is so sensitive that a slight difference of angle of the pipe or the temperature of the cooling water makes a difference in the taste. When asked what is the tip for drinking awamori, Miyazato answered, ”put some in your mouth but don’t let it go down the throat. Then, breathe in and enjoy the aroma.” Nakata tried ”Harusame Lamé” 43 degrees in alcohol, and commented with satisfaction, ”The rich flavor gradually flourishes towards the end.”


Miyazato Distillery
645 Oroku, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture