Tamanaha Distillery

Common name: 
Tamanaha Distillery
End of Meiji era (early 20th Century)
47 Ishigaki, Ishigaki City
Tamanaha Distillery
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In the pursuit of creating awamori with a traditional flavor, the handmade products, produced with rigor and determination, have a deep flavor.

This distillery, the oldest in the Yaeyama Islands, is famous for its Tama no tsuyu brand, a favorite with the most refined awamori drinkers. It was founded by Yuwa Tamanaha, who broke off from the mainstream family based in Shuri on the Okinawan mainland to move to Ishigaki Island at the end of the Meiji era.

Before the war, both distilleries-in Shuri and in Ishigaki-prospered, but they lost everything during the war. The second generation owner, Yuko Tamanaha, suddenly died in an accident at the young age of 34 and his widow took over the business, while raising six children on her own. Yuko's eldest son, Yusho, worked in a life insurance firm after graduating from university, but returned to the island to take over the business in 1976. He and his wife are now responsible for passing on their brand-maintained so desperately by his mother-to future generations.

Tama no tsuyu is well known for being made entirely by hand; the rice steamer, koji room and distillation pot are all handmade. The only electric appliance used in the factory is a fan with a thermostat used to maintain the temperature of the koji room. All awamori-makers use the same rice and the same koji rice, so it is not the ingredients that generate the differences in the flavor. It is the water quality, the yeast mash and the storing method that determine the characteristics of each brand. But Yusho believes that the biggest determining factor is how much heart is put into the process of awamori-making.
Tama no tsuyu has a strong flavor and the koji rice is steamed well. Because the liquor is filtered at room temperature, it does not lose any of the awamori characteristics; it strongly retains the flavor of the past. The tradition is bound to live on with the third generation-the children of the couple. We hope that the old taste will remain intact for many years to come.