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  • Making a cask for spirits maturation is a long and pricey procedure. It takes 80 to 100 years for an acorn to grow up into an oak tree that can be harvested to produce wood staves. Only 25% to 40% of the cutting wood will be selected to construct casks for wine or spirits maturation. The stave materials are carefully selected, with natural seasoning from three months to two years on the seasoning ground to reduce the rough tannins flavor and increase the softer note that will be transmitted to the wine or spirit. Subsequently, the kiln dry process will reduce the moisture of the oak until it reaches a desirable level.
  • The selected wood will travel from America to the Ariake cooperage in Miyazaki Prefecture. The advantage of this only independent cooperage in Japan is its years of experience in the industry experimenting with all kind of barrels for wine to cognac, whiskey to bourbon, shochu or more specific sherry casks. Each kind of barrel has its own personality and flavor. They require proper treatment and knowledge to optimize their strength, odor and taste.

Using casks to mature strong spirits has been practiced in Western countries since the Roman age. Although maturing spirits in the oak cask culture has been adopted in Japan for almost a century, the history of cask aging spirits in Japan is still young compared to its world history. In general, Japanese spirit makers never stop themselves from being creative and innovative. Shochu is one of the leading representatives for the Japanese distilling culture.
Porous oak is one of the rare wood types that can effectively contribute to the maturing process of spirits, particularly shochu. More and more domestic shochu makers are beginning to mature their shochu in various types of oak casks. Over a period of time of experimenting and learning, shochu makers eventually understood how the wood imparts their spirits. Since then, oak has become the most popular material for making casks with its abundant resources in Europe and America.


Under the hands of our highly skilled craftsmen, oak staves are cut into the perfect shape that will fit together exactly. Then the staves will be assembled and charred to our specification to enhance wood flavors to build accomplished casks. Charring will change the oak nature as the carbon layer helps color the spirit while building a barrier between the wood and spirits, filtering the tougher element of the spirits. At the same time, it opens up the oak and allows whiskey to penetrate deeper and alter the flavor of the spirits. It also has another effect on the spirits as the carbon in the ash acts as a filter for the harsher elements of the liquor.

Kyushu Island
The heart of authentic Japanese shochu

Kyushu Island is the third largest island located in southwest Japan. A warm climate, plentiful hot springs, an alluring landscape and an abundant fresh cuisine bless this island area. This is where shochu was born, currently became the place where 90% of authentic shochu is produced. The island’s warm weather is a disadvantage for sake brewing as traditional Japanese sake “koji” requires a stable cold temperature. This is where shochu was born. Shochu “koji” is another word for “Japanese yeast” that is well suited to the warm weather on the island. Therefore, it is no surprise that there are more than 350 shochu distilleries located only in Kyushu Island.


Shochu culture has been deep-rooted in Japan for more than 500 years since the Muromachi era. Shochu is well-known for its single distillation method that preserves the original flavor of the spirits as well as the distinctive flavor of every single type of shochu. Not only suitable for leisure drinking style or well food pairing, many studies have proved shochu health benefits as it stimulates urokinase enzymes that can break up a blood clot in the vascular system. It also has fewer calories compared to other types of spirits. Although this exquisite drink has become an important part of Japanese daily lives and culture, but not many foreigners aware about it. The value of the drink remains domestic only. Nowadays, shochu can be produced from various raw materials but ingredients like barley, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, and buckwheat shochu dominate the market. At Matsuno Izumi, we benefit from good weather all year round and utilize the bountiful water resources to produce our own rice for the best raw material quality control.

  • Tsunematsu Shuzo

Located in Kumamoto prefecture, the Matsuno Izumi distillery inherited the traditional distilling methods from more than 100 years of practice since its establishment. We are continuously carrying on the brand prestige by applying different techniques to produce the finest shochu. Adopting the cask maturation culture to mature shochu began only a couple decades ago. Through researching and experimenting, we discovered the undeniable better result, altering the flavor profile with a deeper and more complex tasting note.

The Oishi Distillery is one if the young and active distilleries in Kumamoto area, Kyushu Island. The distillery has a history of innovation, beging the first to apply the ultrasonic technique to finish its shochu after maturation in oak cask.

Tsunematsu Shuzo has a history of over 100 years.
The land where the distillery is located is watered by the Kuma River flowing through the ancient village of Hitoyoshi Kuma. This highly fertile land has been producing delicious, high-quality rice for centuries.
It is said that every winter, the cranes that came to Japan from Siberia for the winter rested their wings in this area, enjoying its abundant food and rich ecosystem.
We can still feel this history through the name of the land, “Tsuruha” (meaning “wings of the crane”), and through Kuma brand shochu, which is produced from the abundant water and tasty rice.