A Japanese distilled beverage made from rice, barley, buckwheat, sweet potatoes, or other starches. It matches saké in terms of its long history and wide variation. Because of a high alcohol content of 25% to 40%, shōchū is often mixed with water or other soft drinks. Chūhai, a mixed drink consisting of shōchū, soda, etc., is almost as popular as beer in Japan. I always give a bottle of imo-shōchū (shōchū distilled from sweet potatoes) as a birthday gift for my father, who loves drinking mugi-shōchū (shōchū distilled from barley). He said it tasted good, but he didn’t seem fond of the peculiar smell of imo-shōchū. Sorry dad, and thank you for being so kind.