Nihonshu (known as sake outside of Japan) is a traditional Japanese alcohol beverage made from the interaction between rice, water and microbes known as Koji‐kin (a mold) and kobo (sake yeast). It has played a central role in Japanese life and culture for the past 2,000 years and even "modern" sake making processes were established more than 500 years ago. There are many different varieties of sake that can be enjoyed warm or chilled, depending on the season. Fine sake is similar to wine in its potential for serious gourmet appreciation.
Shochu is a traditional Japanese liquor distilled from a variety of base ingredients such as sweet potato, barley, rice and sugar cane. It first appeared in southern Japan more tha 500 years ago and is actually more widely consumed than sake. The biggest appeal of shochu is its wide variety of distinct flavors. Shochu is usually made with locally available produce and as such will have a unique affinity with the local cuisine. The ability to reproduce regional flavours through shochu and food pairings is another reason for shochu's popularity.