The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2014

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10  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2014 INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT INSIGHTS FROM BEVERAGETRADENETWORK.COM Randy Kuba of Honolulu-based Lotus Spirits Discusses Awamori A decade ago, I wanted to find my roots, discover my heritage and understand my culture. I decided to explore and visit Okinawa, a secluded group of islands between the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea—the birthplace of my grandparents. What I discovered was a different world. The sub-tropical climate, the healthy fruits, vegetables and seafood consumed on a daily basis convinced me to change my lifestyle in Hawaii. As I visited each household from the village my grandparents came from, I was served a small portion of awamori. Each household aged their own awamori in hand made earthenware pots called a "kame" of different size and shapes. Kuba Awamori is distilled in Okinawa. Its foundation is Thai Indicia rice, the purest organic rice in Asia. A unique mold indigenous to Okinawa called "black koji" is added; it is similar to the peat moss in Ireland. The black koji is needed to bring out the rich texture, taste and aroma of the awamori spirit to maturity. It is then aged in a specially created earthenware pot called a "kame," and as it matures with age, the smoother the spirit and aroma becomes. Awamori has existed for over 700 years; it was handcrafted way before the trend of small craft distilleries existed. Besides the skilled natural distilling process, which eliminates congeners and is gluten-free, the aging method is an art in itself. The key is the handcrafted kame, made to breathe yet contain the distilled spirit. By nature, the Okinawans are humble, unassuming, low-key people making awamori for them- selves and only sharing it with visitors they choose to share it with. This is why I call it the "Best Kept Secret in Asia." Randy Kuba is the creator of Kuba Awamori, his brand of traditional Okinawan rice beverage. For the complete interview, go to Great Exportations M el Dick—President, Wine Division, and Senior Vice President, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. —accepted the African Leadership Magazine's 2014 U.S.- Africa Business Leadership Award presented during the First Annual U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. The award paid tribute to Southern's dedication to distribution of indigenous South African wines. Commenting on the honor, Dick said, "At Southern, we have represented South African wines for more than 25 years. As the leading wine and spirits distributor in the U.S., we're honored to be recognized for our contribution to the South African wine industry."

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