There are four theories regarding the origin of the name 'awamori.'

The first theory concerns the main ingredient. Although Thai rice is used today, millet was once widely cultivated, even in Okinawa, and it was used to produce awamori. Millet is called 'awa' in Japanese and 'awa-mori' literally means 'a heap of millet'.

OriginsThe second theory concerns bubbles. Pouring the liquor from a height into a cup and observing how long the bubbles-or 'awa'-remained was used to check the alcohol content of awamori just after distillation. This technique was called 'mui', which means 'amassing bubbles' in the Okinawan dialect.

The third theory is that the Satsuma clan referred to Ryukyuan shochu as 'awamori' to differentiate it from the shochu produced on their own island of Kyushu.

The fourth theory is that the name is derived from the Sanskrit language of ancient India, where alcohol was called 'awamuri'.

The most plausible theories are said to be the first and second.

Regarding the roots of awamori, there are two theories. One is the 'Southern root theory', which claims that it first came from Lao Lon in Siam (now Thailand). The 'Northern root theory' claims that it was brought along with distilling equipment from Fujian in China. Which is correct has still not been clarified. But, wherever it originally came from, the thought that Okinawa used to be involved in frequent 'Nanban' trading with the countries of Southeast Asia adds a sense of romanticism to the liquor.

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