Alberta Barley

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Shochu Selection

Shochu is a clear distilled beverage of varying alcoholic strength that has been popular in Japan for many years and is now gaining traction in North American markets. It can be made from a number of basic ingredients, including malt barley, sweet potato, rice, Japanese buckwheat and unrefined sugar. In recent years, shochu has become a very popular drink, especially among a younger generation who favour it over the more traditional sake consumed by their parents and grandparents.  At one point in the past decade, shochu sales in Japan even exceeded sake sales.

Thanks to its internationally renowned quality, Alberta malt is perfect for creating quality shochu. As a result, Japan represents a very significant market for Alberta malt exports (malt is also used commonly in other Japanese foods and beverages). Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development estimates that malting barley varieties account for about 50 per cent of the total barley grown in the province, but only about 20 per cent of the malting barley grown is accepted for malting. Malting barley is an important crop, both to Alberta’s barley sector and Alberta’s agriculture industry. With the expansion of Canadian barley into segments such as shochu, Alberta Barley hopes to see an increased demand for high-quality Canadian barley not only in the alcohol sector, but also as spillover into other food products, as well.

Shochu research

Alberta Barley has provided funding for various shochu research projects, past and present. Much of this research has focused on determining optimal barley varieties for shochu production in order to increase malt quality and malt demand in foreign markets like Japan. This type of research improves the bottom line of Alberta malt producers while creating new and exciting opportunities for barley on the international stage. 

This particular project involves testing Canadian barley varieties to determine the most suitable variety for shochu manufacture.

Sept. 21, 2009 – December 2013

Alberta Barley Funding: $60,000

Project Partners:

  • Alberta Barley
  • Sanwa Shurui Co., Ltd.
  • Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute
  • Agriculture and Food Council of Alberta
  • University of Alberta
  • Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Canada Malting Co., Ltd.
  • Canadian Wheat Board

Project Lead:

Garson Law
Research Manager
Alberta Barley