EP 14 – Discovering Shochu with Stephen Lyman

Sake is out this week and Shochu is in! Christopher Pellegrini takes the hotseat to interview his partner in crime, Stephen Lyman.


Stephen Lyman is the founder of Kampai.us and the East Coast instructor for the Sake School of America Certified Shochu Advisor Course. Currently based in Fukuoka city on the island of Kyushu, Stephen now splits his time between Kyushu and New York.

Every season for the past 6 years he has been helping Yamatozakura Distillery with their shochu production. He and Chirstopher have gone into business together to open Yokaban, a new shochu bar in Fukuoka, and Stephen is also finishing up with his first book, The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks, which he co-authored together with Chris Bunting, author of Drinking Japan.


02:25 Stephen’s journey to Japan

04:40 Meeting shochu in NYC

07:00 Starting Kampi.us

08:30 Shochu Tasting Competition

10:53 Meeting Sekai Ishizuka and traveling to Japan together

13:30 Meeting Takkan Wakamatsu

15:02 Interning with Yamatozakura

17:40 The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks

23:10 The Certified Shochu Advisor Course

30:15 How Stephen and Chris met

35:00 Chris and Stephen’s Shochu Bar (Yokaban NY)

38:00 Drinking Games

39:40 Looking toward the future

46:10 Drinking Shochu and Awamori at home

49:45 Challenges selling Shochu abroad

56:40 Shochu as an artisanal Spirit

58:58 Final remarks


We’d love your thoughts and feedback on this week’s episode. Let us know what excites you about shochu at questions@sakeonair.com

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A big thanks to Frank for another great production this week. The Export Japan team is helping us with a few other show-related things at the moment, as well. We’ll have more to share here very soon.

Thanks for listening!


Sake On Air is broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center and made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association and is a joint production between Potts.K Productions and Export Japan.

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