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Shōchū gains legal recognition in NY

Japanese shōchū can now be legally sold under its category name in New York in beer and wine retailers after a new bill was signed.

Shōchū is normally bottled at around 25% ABV

New York governor Kathy Hochul signed Assembly Bill A8620 into law on 1 July.

The amendment to the Beverage Control Act will allow Japanese shōchū (with an ABV of 24% ABV or under) to be sold in retailers with a beer and wine licence in the state.

The previous law meant that Japanese distillers could only sell the spirit under the misleading label of soju, a Korean spirit.

The move means the Japanese category can be recognised on its own, and can be labelled and sold for the first time in New York as ‘shōchū’.

The New York Japanese Restaurant Association (NYJRA) will share additional information on the law’s implementation once it is available to ensure a ‘seamless’ rollout.

Trade group the Japan Saké and Shōchū Makers Association (JSS) said: “We are very excited as we have wanted this for many years. We thank the NYJRA, importers, distributors, the Japanese community, and government agencies for their support.

“We would like to take this opportunity to let everyone know the joy of shōchū in cooperation with our partner.”

According to the JSS and NYJRA, the Japanese spirit is ‘highly versatile’ and can be enjoyed neat, over ice, or with tonic water or soda. The spirit has also become more popular with bartenders in the US due to its lower alcohol content, and is being used in classic cocktails such as Martinis or Negronis.

Two shōchū brands made our list of biggest-selling local spirits last year.

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