Happy New Year 2019

What a way to bring in the New Year!

Sharing a mention from Piscologia:

https://www.facebook.com/110552682332617/posts/2005726572815209/

We wish to return the favor by publicly thanking them for the opportunity to work with their brand. Their appreciation, respect and willingness to cooperate is beyond compare!


On a personal note, as I mentally prepare to leap into 2019, I must remind myself of what it took to get this far and use that reflection to better prepare for the road ahead.

Big plans are on the horizon during the year of the boar: importing new products and increasing current capabilities are a couple of examples but more details will be revealed as the year progresses. Many challenges await but, New Year, new approach. Let’s get it!

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蒸留酒の物語り

「シルクロードでの貿易は中国、高句麗王国(現在の韓国)、日本、インド亜大陸、ペルシャ、ヨーロッパ、アフリカの角、アラビアの発展に大きな役割を果たしました。中国から運ばれる絹が主な貿易品でしたが、他にも様々な物資、宗教、雑家、テクノロジーがシルクロードを通じて各地域に広まっていきました。」

シルクロード(紀元前 202 から 1911 年)とは当時の中国での冊封体制に準じた広大なメカニズムであり、明王国(1368-1644)、清王朝 (1644-1911)と数多くの近隣諸国との長期貿易関係を確たるものにしました。それに加え、明王朝時代の大航海がこの巨大な貿易ネットワークを構築するのに一役買いました。

貿易国同士な有益な交流は各地域の文化に多大な影響を与えました。例えば琉球王朝(沖縄)、スコータイ王朝(タイ)、セイロン(スリランカ)などの王国は明王朝の冊封体制に参加しており、その貿易協定により利益を得ていました。美術品や香辛料の取引はもちろん、お酒の蒸留技術の提供も行われていました。

国家間の貿易の歴史を見てみる と、酒の蒸留技術が文明から文 明へ手渡される際、その時に使 える素材や資源により少しずつ 変化が表れます。諸説がありま すが、例えばアラック酒とはア ジアや東地中海で飲まれる様々 な蒸留酒の事を指します。

「中国中南部ではアラック酒は主に米で出来ており、エジプトではナツメヤシの果実(デーツ)で出来ています。モンゴルでは醗酵した牛乳から蒸留したお酒であり、スリランカではココナッツの花の樹液を醗酵したものから出来ています。」

興味深い事にアラック酒はこれまた様々なバリエーションがあるヤ シ酒に凄く似ています。例えば、ナイジェリアではトディー(ヤシの 樹液)を抽出しヤシ酒を作る工程は、スリランカでココナッツから樹 液を抽出しアラック酒を作る工程と酷似しています。

同じように琉球泡盛の存在も沖縄の貿易の歴史により生まれたものです。その源流はタイのスピリッツであるラオ・カオにあり、

タイ米を蒸留させる技術は 15 世紀から今なお受け継がれています。

年月と共に、沖縄の人たちは近隣諸国からの技術を応用し、亜熱帯気候により適した蒸留工程を磨き上げていきました。

中国との属国関係の中、琉球泡盛は他の物資と共に中国と日本へ広 まっていきました。

中国と琉球との朝貢貿易(1372-1874)は直接交流 の無かった国々が琉球を介して貿易を可能にする利益を生み出しま した。その結果琉球王国は 500 年以上にも渡り、各国家間の橋渡し としての地位を確立しました。次いで 16 世紀中頃、泡盛とその蒸留 技術は鹿児島へ伝えられ、焼酎が生まれました。偶然にも、

「江戸時代(1603ー1868)の頃焼酎はアラキ酒、すなわち中東のアラック酒がもじったような言葉で呼ばれていました。そして中国とアラビアのお酒の名前が同じ意味を持ってたりしたのも偶然ではないのでしょう。」

謎は残りますが、歴史を紐解くとシルクロードや大航海、冊封体制等の貿易のネットワークがアジアの蒸留酒アラック酒、ラオ・カオ、泡盛、焼酎を繋げた事は容易に予想できます。これら 4 つの飲み物は遠いいとこ同士みたいなものなのです。

沖縄生まれのブルーハブ トレードグループは現在 Rockland Distilleries’のセイロンアラックを輸入しています。Facebook とインスタグラムの@bluehabu をフォローしてお得な最新情報を手に入れてください。

Whisky Festival 2018 in Tokyo (Day 1, Nov. 24)

The line starts moving
The excitement builds
Let the sipping begin!
Ken was a cool guy, very knowledgeable. I want to visit his bar someday.
Wolfburn was in the building
Care for a taste? The choice is yours.
First time for me seeing a whiskey from New Mexico.
People were learning and networking
Talented people were in the building, showing and explaining their products
As a fan of Cognac, I wanted to try these but didn’t get around to it
Oh yes, bring it on!
Whisky straight out of the barrel!
Not sure what it is but it was too cool to pass up
Of course, well known brands were present as well.
A whisky and a smile goes a long way.
Scotch highball
Come one, come all!
Some tastes were free, for others a fee was charged
He actually played, I thought he was just walking around in character
Good to walk around with friends, especially when they offer you some snacks!
Haha, he cut the cheese… I thought, but it was ham.
I finally tasted the Darkness whisky. It was pretty good
Really good Don Papa
So much Scotch available at this event.
Let’s look around a bit
Some vintage Bourbon
Some cool glassware were part of the exhibition too. Expensive but pretty cool
A friend being interviewed for a local blog or TV production, not sure which…
Is he judging or taking inventory?
Glenmorangie is a highly favored Scotch
Virtual reality during the festival! I should have checked that out, huh
It’s cool to have a table to go have your burning questions about whisky answered

A Historical Look at the Alcohol Trade

“Trade on the Silk Road played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, the Goguryeo Kingdom (Korea), Japan, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, the Horn of Africa and Arabia... Though silk was certainly the major trade item exported from China, many other goods were traded, as well as religions, syncretic philosophies, and various technologies.”

Indeed, the Silk Road (202 BC to 1911) was a vast mechanism that coincided with a tributary system, which involved long-lasting trade relationships between the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), and numerous neighboring countries. Furthermore, the Ming-era Treasure Voyages also helped create the enormous trade network.

The practice of mutually beneficial interactions among trade partners no doubt played a significant role in shaping the region’s culture and affairs. For instance, kingdoms such as the Ryukyu Kingdom (Okinawa), Sukothai Kingdom (Thailand), and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) were participants in the Ming Dynasty’s tributary system and benefitted from their respective trade agreements. The linkage included many products, a few examples of which are: works of art, exotic spices, and techniques for distilling alcoholic beverages.

Arak Preparation

Throughout the history of international trade among nations, practices of alcohol distillation would be passed on from one civilization to the next. Each nation or region added variations based on available ingredients and natural resources. For example, while its precise origin is debatable, Arrack represents a vast amount of distilled alcoholic beverages that is produced throughout Asia and the eastern Mediterranean.

“In central and Southern China, arrack is commonly made from rice while in Egypt it’s largely dates. In Mongolia it refers to a distillate from fermented milk, in Sri Lanka it’s largely made from the fermented sap of the coconut flower...”

Interestingly, Arrack is very similar to Palm Wine, which also has a global reach and multiple variations. For instance, the practice of extracting toddy (sap) from date palms in Nigeria for producing Palm Wine is comparable to the practice of extracting toddy from coconut palms in Sri Lanka for producing Arrack.

Similarly, Ryukyu Awamori owes its existence to Okinawa’s extensive trading history. It is an existence that originates from Thai spirits known as Lao Khao. The technique of distilling from Thai rice reached Okinawa during the 15th century and is practiced to this day.

Over the years, the Okinawans have refined the distillation process, incorporating techniques from nearby countries. This was done to make Awamori more suitable for the subtropical climates.

During its tributary relationship with China, Ryukyu Awamori, as with many other goods, was distributed as a tribute to China and Japan.

Ryukyu Trade Mission

Moreover, the Sino-Ryukyu tributary system (1372 – 1874) was largely beneficial for nations that were normally cut off from one another because they were able to trade indirectly, via the Ryukyus. Thus, the Ryukyu Kingdom became a well-known intermediary, a relationship that lasted over 500 years. Subsequently, around the mid-16th century, Awamori and the alcohol distillation technique in general, arrived in Kagoshima, where Shochu was born.

Coincidentally,

“during the Edo Period in Japan (1603 – 1868), Shochu was called arakishu which is probably derived from 'arak' in the Middle East. And, it’s not simply a coincidence that China’s Rujiu 'dew of sake' and Arabic arak 'droplets of sweat', both carry the same definition.”

While it is still a mystery, one could draw the conclusion based on the history of trade networks (such as the Silk Road, Treasure Voyages, and the tributary system) that such relationships helped to create a lineage between Asian distilled liquors such as Arrack, Lao Khao, Awamori, and Shochu. One could say that the four beverages are related, like distant cousins.

Continue reading “A Historical Look at the Alcohol Trade”

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