Soju is a cane sugar and rice-based (ergo, gluten-free) clear distillate popular in Japan, where in the past decade it has overcome sake in sales. Made for 500 years in Japan and utilizing white Kogi, a yeast used in sake production, Soju performs a bit like vodka, used in mixed drinks, combined with water or consumed on the rocks. A Gold Medal Winner at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition, Nankai Shochu comes from Amami Oshima island, part of an eight-island archipelago north of Okinawa. Black sugar is added to the mash for a secondary fermentation before distillation, then aged three years in steel tanks. Although it uses no oak, the aroma and flavor reminded me a bit like a light scotch whiskey, very distinctive. Just 24% alcohol (48 proof) by volume. Use it to make a lower-alcohol salty dog, bloody-Mary and Margarita. Food pairings suggested by Nankai include sushi, grilled chicken skewers, ceviche and pasta.