The origin of distilled spirits can be traced
back to ancient Greece in 300 B.C. An ancient document written by
Aristotle, a reputed philosopher of those days, shows that there
were distilled alcoholic drink at that time. A distillation apparatus,
called an Alembic, was introduced into European and Asian countries
by the Arabs. In the 13th or 14th century, distilled alcoholic drink
were made using grains, the sap of coco palm or cane in China, Korea
and Southeast Asia.
In the early years of the 15th century, the Ryukyu Islands (now
Okinawa)enjoyed multilateral trades with China and Southeast Asian
countries. (The Ryukyus was an independent kingdom from the 15th
through 19th centuries.) Imports included distilled spirits from
Thailand (then Siam kingdom). Thai techniques were then introduced
into the Ryukyus to create local distilled spirits, named "Awamori."
Since then, "Awamori" has been improved and refined to
suit the subtropical climate of the Ryukyu Islands, and played an
important role in trade as a valuable gift. It was transported to
China and Japan by colorful tributary ships, as an unparalleled
spirits. In the 19th century, Western vessels from England, France
and the U.S. (Commander Perry) visited the Ryukyu Islands, and "Awamori"
was served to entertain guests from overseas.
Today, 47 local distillers are devoted to making varieties of "Awamori."
Some varieties have been developed to provide a mild taste suitable
for women and young people, while traditional varieties continue
in popularity. In addition to conventional stainless tank,traditional
earthenware pots or casks as a recent attempt are used to ferment
"Awamori," providing a diversity of tastes to meet the
demands of the times. This reflects Okinawan people's attitudes
of having flexibility while respecting traditional values. "Awamori,"
a treasure of Okinawa, will continue to provide its classic flavor
and aroma, while research and development continue to keep up with