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Tasting Japanese Shochu, Taiwanese Craft Beers

By John Saboe | Taiwan

Jul 10


Wine And Gourmet Taipei was one of the most challenging wine shows I’ve ever been invited to in the world. With a tasting selection ranging from Shochu, a Japanese distilled beverage, vodka like, to Australian Shiraz.

Typically I would start at a traditional wine tasting with sparkling wine, moving on to light then more full bodied whites like Chardonnay, then the reds from Pinot Noir to Cabs then maybe if I’ve got anything left in me, ports and sherries. But there’s no way I could handle a diverse range of Japanese sake, shochu, craft beers, many fruit flavored ones, then an assortment of wines. The palate just can’t absorb all those flavors and intensities over a 3-4 hour period.

So being in Asia I decided to focus on Asian alcohol and craft beers, including the emerging craft beer segment in Taiwan.

Managing to finally pull myself away from the dazzling selection of Japanese Shochu and sake I made my way to the many Belgian beers that are available around Taiwan and the island’s homegrown craft beers including Bazu and Taiwan Head Brewers. I am really impressed with the range of beers, the quality and taste, and the actual infusions and flavors from Litchi, very refreshing and thirst quenching, to sour beers, tea infused beers, chocolate and more from the homegrown market.

Craft brews are still relatively new compared with the North American market but interest, particularly with the younger generation is growing in Taiwan. Some purists might be put off by some of the fruit beers but I personally think they suite not only local food, but the climate, especially in Northern Taiwan with it’s extremely hot and humid summers. Nothing like quenching your thirst with a refreshing light litchi beer with maybe a plate of spicy squid on the side.

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About the Author

I am a broadcaster, photographer, writer and videographer with a passion for travel throughout Asia. I love making connections and engaging with people. I am spiritual and seek adventure wherever I go.