Monthly Archives: May 2019

EP 16 – Shochu with Maya Aley and Sake with Jamie Graves

We’re back this week with a boozy double-interview featuring one shochu meister and one sake maven.


In the first half of this week’s episode of Sake on Air, Christopher Pellegrini interviews Maya Aley, the first non-Japanese to receive the prestigious certification of Shochu Meister. Maya has been living and working in Kagoshima city since 2011. Starting as an English teacher before shifting to translation, interpretation, and local business development, she talks to us about the Kagoshima University Shochu Meister course, Kagoshima’s special place in the shochu world, and one of the city’s most famous shochu bars, Ishizue, where you can now find her regularly behind the bar.


For the second-half, Justin joins Christopher Pellegrini to speak with special guest Jamie Graves, the Japanese beverage portfolio manager for Skurnik Wines and Spirits in New York. After teaching English in the JET program for a year in 2002, Jamie found himself on the archipelago for an additional four more years where he worked various restaurant jobs, explored sake, and improved his Japanese until he was able to successfully pass the highest level of the Japanese language proficiency test. Upon returning to New York he slipped into the restaurant scene and wound up at the East Village shojin cuisine restaurant, Kaijitsu, run by head-chef Masato Nishihara. After cycling through the Japanese dining circuit, Jamie has now found a home at Skurnik, where he is responsible not only for sake, but shochu and all categories of Japanese spirits. Follow Jamie on his Instagram: @jamiefgraves, and we highly encourage our listeners to check out his insightful series of “Unfiltered” articles about sake and shochu on


We hope you enjoy this week’s episode of Sake On Air. If you have any feedback, comments or questions, we would love to hear from you.

As we’re currently restructuring a few things on the back-end (details coming soon!), our regular email,, is out of commission temporarily, but you can reach out to us at any time on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Thanks again for tuning in.

Until next time, Kampai!


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