Sayonara Sake, Here Comes Awamori!
Like Mr. Miyagi, God rest his soul, I thought Okinawa had only two things: fish and karate. Maybe some American servicemen. But my latest discovery is from the Japanese island.
Awamori is a distilled spirit made from Thai rice and Koji (an indigenious yeast to Okinawa), which is aged in traditional clay pots. Awamori is colorless (althouh some may have a slight oxidized color like Madera). The Okinawa Awamori Distillers Association has a very simple explanation of how Awamori is made at their website.
The bottle I picked up in Oahu--Dancing Sea Platinum Awamori--is aged three years and comes in around 86 Proof. It's nougaty with hints of orange peel and some floral components. It has a decent amount of heat but is, overall, pretty smooth. It almost reminds me of Grappa. So you might hear me calling it Japanese Grappa, although it shares much more in common with Sake.
If you see it, grab a bottle. Try the premium stuff neat before you add water or ice. Mix the cheap stuff with cranberry juice and OJ, add a mint leaf and call it an "Okinawan Sunset"--delicious.