Helios Distillery Co., Ltd.

Common name: 
Helios Distillery
Founded: 
1961
Address: 
405 Aza Kyoda, Nago City
Tel: 
0980-52-3372
Fax: 
0980-52-0878
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This distillery with a license to produce five different kinds of liquor created a well-known Nago brand that is already an established name although it is only 23 years old.

Of the 48 awamori distilleries in Okinawa, Helios is unique in that it has gone through dramatic changes over the years. When the distillery was founded in 1961, it engaged in manufacturing rum made from sugar cane for the U.S. Army stationed in Okinawa. After obtaining a license to make liquor, it began production of black sugar liquor and habuzake, a liquor made from a habu snake pickled in awamori. It also obtained a license to make shochu spirits and began production of awamori in 1979. The distillery is very young in comparison with others, but during the twenty years since then, its Kura brand-stored in oak barrels-has become its main product, and it has won numerous major international prizes. In the meantime, it also obtained a license to produce beer and opened a brewery restaurant called 'The Helios Brewery'.
Helios is the only distillery in Okinawa to produce awamori, spirits, liqueurs, whiskey, and local beer. The undertaking was motivated by the management concept of its founder, Tadashi Matsuda, to create real and tasty alcoholic beverages. His successor, Ryo Matsuda, has taken over not only the company but also the founder's policies, to produce the Kura awamori brand, paying due respect to traditional distillery techniques and developing unique distillation and maturing processes. The awamori is made from tasty natural water after unwanted iron and manganese have been removed. The main ingredient, rice, is milled to remove the outer part of the grain to produce ginjoshu. The awamori made from strictly selected ingredients is kept in oak barrels, which have also been carefully selected. It is kept there until it matures into Kura, an awamori with an amber color. The secret to the popularity of Helios' products is the distillery's resolve to produce fine alcoholic beverages.