Japanese law lists over 50 botanical varieties that can be used in Honkaku Shochu production.
The most common materials are:
sweet potatoes, which in Japanese are called Satsuma Imo and is typically grown in the Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, and barley, mugi in Japanese, mostly in the Nagasaki and Oita prefectures.
Rice, on the other hand, comes from different regions of Japan and is used to distill both Honkaku Shochu and Okinawa’s Awamori. The latter, however, is derived exclusively from long grain ice of the indica variety cultivated in Thailand.
Rice, sweet potatoes and barley represent together 95% of the total Honkaku Shochu production. Among the most original products, there are ginger, peppers and citrus shochu, that given their production method, could be defined as “super-gin”.
There are also Honkaku Shochu from buckwheat, chestnuts, sugar cane and sake kasu, which is the residual of rice fermented must, after pressing during the sake production process.