Mizuho Shuzo's endeavor to bring further vitality to Okinawa through sugarcane: A rum-making project.
Presenting "ONERUM," a project team led by Mizuho Shuzo, a distillery in Okinawa (Representative Director: Misako Tamana, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture), dedicated to redefining the art of awamori-making techniques cultivated over 175 years and creating rum using Okinawa's sugarcane as the main ingredient. As part of their new series, the "Blended Islands Series," they will be releasing "THE OKINAWA ISLANDS RUM" on August 8, 2023 (Tuesday).
Since the inception of "ONERUM," this marks their first project. From July 2021 to March 2023, the "Single Island Series" was developed and launched, utilizing black sugar produced on eight remote islands*, to bring forth the distinct characteristics of black sugar born from the unique terroir and production methods of each island. Meticulously studying the black sugar based on each island's terroir, identifying their individuality, and encapsulating their charm to the fullest, "ONERUM" has unveiled an exquisite array of eight rums. Their latest masterpiece, "THE OKINAWA ISLANDS RUM," represents a culmination of "ONERUM's" efforts.
With "THE OKINAWA ISLANDS RUM," they approached the distinct flavors of black sugar and the terroir of each island, skillfully blending the original rums crafted from the unique black sugar of each island. Additionally, they have introduced the domestically unique "Dunder" fermentation method as a part of the "ONERUM" project. On the design front, the colors from the labels of the previously unveiled Single Islands Series over the course of approximately one and a half years have been integrated into the label of "THE OKINAWA ISLANDS RUM," weaving a continuous narrative from the previous series.
2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the introduction of black sugar to Okinawa. From the "ONERUM" project, a bridge to the future that intertwines with the history of black sugar, they bring you a luxurious rum that paints a portrait of the heritage and future of black sugar.
*Eight remote islands: Islands within Okinawa Prefecture that host sugarcane processing factories for black sugar production (Aguni Island, Ie Island, Iheya Island, Iriomote Island, Kohama Island, Tarama Island, Hateruma Island, Yonaguni Island).
【Cocktail】 Perfect for cocktails like Daiquiris, Mojitos, and Cuba Libres, offering a versatile and easy-to-use flavor. The fresh sugarcane juice impression shines through.
【Soda Mix】 An ideal choice as a beverage with meals. Mixing with soda creates a refreshing combination. The muscat grape aroma and the bittersweet aftertaste from the black sugar enhance the dining experience. You can also add citrus fruits according to your preference.
【Sweets】 Black sugar rum pairs exceptionally well with chocolate and traditional Japanese sweets. The flavors complement each other beautifully. Moreover, it's a recommended choice for both Western and Japanese dessert creations.
【Unique Rum Infused with the Nature and Traditions of Okinawa】
Crafted on the eight remote islands of Okinawa Prefecture, this rum is made from black sugar. Carefully embracing the distinct flavors of black sugar from each island and the local terroir, we have blended the richly individual base rums derived from the black sugar of each island to create this exceptional product. In the year 2023, which marks the 400th anniversary of black sugar's introduction to Okinawa, we present a luxurious rum that encapsulates both the history and future of black sugar.
【Sustainable Production Method through Dunder Fermentation】
After conducting black sugar tastings from the eight islands, we categorized them into 'Light, Medium, and Rich' flavor profiles. We produce three types of base rums and blend them together. As for the Dunder, typically considered waste after distillation, we have pioneered a Dunder fermentation process in Japan for the first time, where it is reused in the subsequent fermentation stage. Adding Dunder to the black sugar flavors, and following fermentation with our proprietary ONERUM yeast successfully separated from our own sugarcane fields, we blended base rums that underwent two rounds of distillation. This process has given birth to a rich and distinctive flavor.
"Dunder Fermentation Process"
While the residual liquid after distillation is typically discarded as waste (known as "Dunder"), "THE OKINAWA ISLANDS RUM" has pioneered the "Dunder Fermentation Process" in Japan for the first time, reutilizing this Dunder in the subsequent fermentation stage. This incorporation of Dunder enhances the fermentation potency of the yeast, giving rise to new aromatic and flavor profiles, and introducing complexity to the flavors derived from black sugar. In the Single Island Series, the Dunder Fermentation Process was experimentally introduced for the first time in TARAMA ISLAND RUM. Subsequently, this authentic method has been adopted from this series onward.
Yeast, the central character of the fermentation process, is typically derived from commercially available sources. However, at ONERUM, we employ naturally occurring yeasts successfully isolated from the natural world within our company. In this series, we have achieved further specialization by isolating yeast (ONERUM YEAST) uniquely designed for rum fermentation from our own sugarcane fields. This yeast boasts fermentation capabilities equal to or surpassing commercially available yeasts, contributing to the production of a full-bodied and aromatic flavor profile during the fermentation process.
"Black Sugar Produced on the Eight Remote Islands of Okinawa"
Development began by meticulously exploring the distinct aromas and flavors of black sugar from each island, as well as the terroir that gives rise to these differences. The year 2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the introduction of black sugar refining technology to Okinawa. In this significant year, we proudly present a luxurious rum that embodies the history and future of black sugar. (Note: The eight islands producing black sugar are: Aguni Island, Ie Island, Iheya Island, Iriomote Island, Kume Island, Tarama Island, Hateruma Island, Yonaguni Island)
With scents reminiscent of fresh green apples, muscat grapes, freshly squeezed sugarcane juice, and honey, this rum exudes a refreshing and cooling aroma. It presents a tropical and creamy impression akin to coconut, along with the distinctively sweet and fragrant flavors evoking the essence of traditional Japanese confections like yokan (sweet bean jelly). While it offers a rich flavor experience, the finish remains clean and crisp, expanding the range of drinking possibilities. The nuanced essence of Japanese confections discernible uniquely in black sugar rum renders it aptly suitable to be referred to as 'Japanese Rum'. It is recommended for both Western and Japanese desserts. Feel free to enjoy this novel expression of rum that evokes a sense of Japan.
About ONERUM PROJECT
In November 2020, Mizuho Shuzo established the "ONERUM" project team with the mission to create "rum" primarily using traditional sugarcane as a key ingredient, a legacy passed down by previous generations. Collaborating as a cohesive unit, including agricultural producers, universities, research institutions, and industry professionals, the team embarked on a journey to develop rum. They delved into exploring sugarcane varieties, origins, sugar production methods, and innovative ways to enjoy rum.
Okinawa's sugarcane, which boasts a 400-year history believed to have spread through the achievements of the distinguished figure Gima Shinjo, is cultivated throughout various regions of Okinawa. Additionally, sugar mills producing black sugar from sugarcane are situated on eight remote islands of Okinawa Prefecture (Aguni Island, Ie Island, Iheya Island, Iriomote Island, Kume Island, Tarama Island, Hateruma Island, Yonaguni Island).
Within this project, the focus is on two key ingredients: sugarcane and the distinct qualities arising from the variations in terroir and production methods of these eight remote islands. This approach has led to the creation of three series: the Single Island Series, the Blended Islands Series, and the One Island Series. The Single Island Series unveiled eight different rums between 2021 and 2023. The current release belongs to the Blended Islands Series. Additionally, the forthcoming One Island Series will feature rums cultivated from sugarcane grown on the company's own farm on the main island of Okinawa, with a focus on exploring different varieties.
The essence of "ONERUM" aims to craft rums that allow enthusiasts to savor the terroir of sugarcane fields, similar to the enjoyment of wines. Moreover, the project aspires to create world-renowned rums, positioning Okinawa as a haven for rum enthusiasts.
The Three Series Developed by ONERUM
Single Island Series
Using black sugar produced on each of the eight remote islands, a unique rum is crafted for each island. This series showcases the distinct characteristics of black sugar that emerge from the variations in terroir and production methods of each island. Eight different rums have been released in this series.
Blended Islands Series
This series predominantly features rums rich in individuality derived from the black sugar of each island. Various base rums are selectively combined to create a harmonious and diverse balance, aiming to achieve the best blend of flavors. The new release being announced falls under this series.
One Island Series
Commenced with planting in February 2021, this series revolves around sugarcane cultivated on our company's own farm, delving into the essence of rum from an agricultural perspective. Exploring sugarcane varieties, soil conditions, cultivation methods, and more, we offer a new perspective on Okinawan agricole rum.
The Geographical Locations of the Eight Islands
The Eight Islands' 'Okinawa Black Sugar®' Source: Okinawa Prefecture Black Sugar Cooperative
ONERUM Project Team
In the year of King Shō Tai's ascension to the Ryukyu throne, 1848, Mizuho Shuzo was founded in Shuri. Over its 175-year history, rooted in the Frontier Spirits handed down from predecessors, the company has actively embraced the challenge of crafting beverages that harmonize with people, nature, and microorganisms unique to Okinawa, driven by the spirit of Mizuho Shuzo.
Under the concept of creating 'Craft Gin that conveys the charm of Okinawa in a single sip,' the company also presents the 'ORI-GiN1848' series of gins made using Okinawa's sakura yeast-infused awamori. This endeavor has borne fruit, with three items winning Gold and eight items being recognized in three categories at the International Wine & Spirits Competition 2021, a prestigious alcohol evaluation event held in London for over 50 years.
Reference: Mizuho Shuzo IWSC 2021 Award Achievements