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Karusotju: The Locally Distilled Sochu in Indonesia

Karusotju: The Locally Distilled Sochu in Indonesia

Yohanes Sandy
22 February 2022


Karusotju is the first locally distilled shochu in Indonesia using yam as its main ingredients.


In the past few years, Indonesia’s local spirits have been elevated by various independent companies to become premium, less dangerous brands for cocktail aficionados. Karusotju is the newest one. Launched in 2021, Karusotju is inspired by the Japanese technique of making shochu using a single-phase distillation technique that captured all the good flavor from the alcohol fermentation.

Karusotju is made from yam (sweet potato). “We researched to find the best yam available from West Java to East Java,” said Aldrian Kuswadi, one of the founders and a member of Karusotju’s research and development team, during the meeting with FoodieS in Jakarta in February 2022.

The journey of making Karusotju began in 2017 when Kuswadi, along with his two other friends: Ignatia Herti and Eric Prasetya was offered by Alisjahbana Haliman to create a local spirit. Haliman itself is a spirit crafting enthusiast who also happens to be a serial entrepreneur and a recipient of the Habibie Technology Award and The 2018 Ernest and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

It took two years for Haliman and his three apprentices to develop and reinvent the right fermentation technique before they move the laboratory to the Mount Batukaru area in Tabanan, Bali in 2019. “There were a lot of considerations, one of them being it’s easier to build a distillery in Bali and Mount Batukaru offers a perfect water source to create distinctive taste of sochu,” explained Kuswadi. 

The process of making Karusotju starts with cooking the yam, fermenting it, and then distilled to get the right amount of alcohol. It is then finished with a long aging process similar to the beginnings where arak makers store arak in a traditional clay pot called “jeding” before they sell it to customers.

Karusotju offers two variants: Karu 18 and Karu 38. As the name suggests, each variant offers a different alcohol volume. The Karu 18 (with 18% volume of alcohol) brings a light taste that is perfect to accompany a casual chat. Whereas the Karu 38 offers more bold taste similar to whiskey. “We can use Karusotju in a cocktail, but, for me, the best way to appreciate it is by drinking it pure and chilled. Or, for Karu 38, you may drink it on the rocks way,” said Kuswadi.


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