Welcome to Nankai Shochu

Welcome to Nankai Shochu, the cleanest, smoothest craft spirit I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot. And it was so good that my wife Mai and I went against all conventional marriage advice,  and we decided to work together importing and selling the stuff.

But before I get into our whole story, let me say thanks. If you’re reading this, then you’ve clicked on one of the many links we hand-pitched into the internet, or we personally met at one of our events, or by the blessed heavens, you actually Googled “Nankai” and “Shochu” at the same time. Whatever the reason, you’re here, and it’s a lot.

I won’t get into our origin story here, even though I did sort of tease it a second ago. Instead, let me tell you what our goal is here at Nankai Shochu. Yes, becoming independently wealthy would be a great and satisfying pursuit, but that’s not the thought that passed through our minds when we decided to start this company, in an industry we knew nothing about no less. Our noble mission is to introduce America to the beautiful distilled spirit known as “shochu.”

Explaining shochu is going to take a few posts all on its own, so let me start with the broad strokes. It’s a Japanese distilled spirit typically at 24% ABV with history dating back 500 years or more, made from a grain (like sweet potato or rice), and fermented using koji mold. It’s not sake, vodka, or soju, but there are connections to each of these. We’ll tackle these difference later. The important thing to note about shochu is that it has only 15-20 calories per ounce, has no carbs or sugar, and is considered the “healthier option” for alcoholic beverages in Japan.

(If you can’t wait for me to write the next few posts, you can learn more about shochu here and here.)

Shochu is a beautiful spirit, but one that can be considered an acquired taste. The very thing that aficionados rave about with their favorite shochus, like the aromas or grain-forward tastes, can put off beginners. That’s precisely why my wife and I decided to start Nankai Shochu — because it is the perfect introductory shochu — incredibly smooth, delicious, easy to drink, and remarkably suited for cocktails. Just the possibility that our handpicked product might create a new wave of shochu lovers out there is enough for us to try this start-up life.

So, welcome to Nankai Shochu. In the chapters to come, we’ll talk about our journey and all things shochu. We hope you stick around, or better yet, pick up a bottle to see what ignited our passion.


Paul Nakayama
President and Co-Founder
Nankai Shochu