Kuma Shochu, the traditional rice shochu made in the Hitoyoshi and Kuma-gun region of southern Kumamoto Prefecture for the past 500 years, is said to be the oldest shochu tradition there is. Using only domestically cultivated rice and water from the subterranean wells of the Kuma River, one of the three fastest flowing in all of Japan, this ancient distilling tradition is proudly maintained today by 28 rice shochu distilleries. The Hitoyoshi Basin is fertile ground for cultivation, and rice paddies blanket the river valley all the way to the mountains on either side. Kuma Shochu was granted Geographical Indication status by the WTO in June, 1995, a clear acknowledgement of the long history of quality and consistency in the category. Today, both atmospheric and vacuum pressure distillation are used to create a wide array of aroma and flavor.
The three stories of Kuma Shochu: