Iheya Distillery

Common name: 
Iheya Distillery
2131-40 Aza Gakiya, Iheya Village, Shimajiri-gun
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A leading supplier of awamori to fans outside Okinawa, this distillery preserves the superb quality awamori made by the 46-member consortium of distillers.

Iheya Island, the northernmost island of the Okinawan archipelago, was the birthplace of the first king of the Sho Dynasty, Sho Hashi. It has become a popular tourist island in recent years, thanks to the Kumaya cave, with its 'Amano-iwado' legend, and an umbrella-shaped pine tree over 200 years old and more than 25 meters across.
The island is also full of ancient history and myths. Production of awamori symbolic of the island began in 1948 when distillers were brought over from Shuri. The brand was named after the Sun Goddess of Japan and the name of the master distiller. 70 percent of the liquor is consumed by the locals even today. Before the reversion of Okinawa, the brand was a rarity, only available on the island.

The awamori made on the island uses spring water called 'Iinukah' that is fruity and mellow. It has a deep taste, and yet is very easy to drink. The owner, Mr. Hokumura, is also the head of the quiet district in which the distillery is located. He says that the awamori is produced from a spring situated some four kilometers away. This water helps maintain the mellow and well-balanced texture of the distilled liquor.
Iheya is the only distillery on the island, which has a population of 1,600 people. The secret of the unchanged taste of the awamori since its foundation is perhaps not only the water but also the local fans who drink every day. They are said to complain if the taste is altered in any way. This is an awamori deeply rooted in the local culture.