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Honkaku Spirits

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Honkaku Spirits[edit]

Honkaku Spirits is a New York based curator of koji-fermented spirits produced by small family owned and operated distilleries in Japan. Honkaku's founders, Christopher Pellegrini and Stephen Lyman, are Japanese government-designated ambassadors for the food and restaurant industry.[1] Pellegrini is the authour of "The Shochu Handbook," and Lyman is the author of "The Complete Guide to Japanese Spirits.[2] The company imports the indigenous Japanese spirits of honkaku shōchū and ryuku awamori, in addition to a koji-fermented whiskey called "Takamine Whiskey," which honors the legacy of Japanese chemist Jokichi Takamine.

Takamine Whiskey[edit]

Takamine Whiskey uses the Japanese method of koji-fermentation, rather than traditional malt, in the distillation of whiskey. This process was created by Japanese chemist Jokichi Takamine and originally brought to the United States by Dr. Takamine in the 1890's.[3] Despite achieving initial success, Dr. Takamine faced a number of hardships, including the burning down of his factory[4], and was never able to establish koji-fermented whiskey in the United States.[5] Over 100 years later, Dr. Takamine's invention of koji-fermented whiskey has made it back to the United States, with a whiskey bearing his name and honoring his legacy.[3] Takamine Whiskey won the gold medal at the San Francisco Wine and Spirits Competition in 2021.[6]

Shochu and Awamori[edit]

In addition to Takamine Whiskey, Honkaku Spirits imports the indigenous spirits of honkaku shōchū and ryukyu awamori. Japanese beverage alcohols like sake, honkaku shōchū, and ryukyu awamori, are all exclusively made with koji fermentation, as are many traditional Japanese food products like soy sauce, miso, and mirin cooking wine.[4] In Japan, the term "honkaku shōchū," means "authentic shōchū;" an official designation stemming from a 2002 law that requires a product to satisfy certain prerequisite conditions in order to meet the standard of an official, or authentic, shōchū. While this official terminology is somewhat new, the traditional method of creating shōchū on which it is based has existed in Japan for more than 500 years.


  1. "Cool Japan Ambassador : Cool Japan Strategy - Cabinet Office Home Page". Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  2. "Author: Stephen Lyman and Christopher Pellegrini". SevenFifty Daily. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Katayama, Akiko. "Dr. Takamine Made Koji Whisky In 1891 And His Competitors Nearly Killed Him. Now, It's Finally Available". Forbes. Retrieved 2022-08-10.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fabricant, Florence (2022-01-31). "Takamine, a Koji-Fermented Whiskey, Arrives Stateside". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-08-10.
  5. "Jokichi Takamine (1854-1922) and Caroline Hitch Takamine (1866-1954): Biography and Bibliography - SoyInfo Center". Retrieved 2022-08-10.
  6. Carter, Gary (2021-05-08). "New Takamine Whiskey A Revival Of A 19th-Century American Experiment". The Whiskey Wash. Retrieved 2022-08-10.

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