Just last week we talked about why Japanese spirits distilleries were yet to start the production of hand sanitizer.At the time I wrote that there may be a way for Japanese spirits producers to effectively make sanitizer:
It is still (legally) possible for a determined distiller licensed to make spirits that have an abv of 60% or more.... Sure, they couldn't label it "sanitizer," but it should still be effective at disinfecting things.
Seems that is exactly what has now happened, thanks to Kochi Prefecture's Kikusui Shuzo. They are a maker of Ryoma rum and many other spirits, and now they are the first Japanese spirits distiller to announce a damn strong generic spirit.
It's called "Alcohol 77," and it weighs in at a whopping 77% abv. Yes, stronger than even woo girl favorite 151. And highly flammable.
The legal situation here in Japan has made things the opposite of what we're seeing overseas. While overseas distilleries are officially making hand sanitizer and telling you not to drink it, Kikusui Shuzo instead is required to tell us that Alcohol 77 is NOT made for sanitizing/disinfection.
So amazingly, the official purpose of this bottle is, uhh, to be drunk. It's tough to condone downing the stuff given the shortage of actual sanitizer. But the Japanese government has left us no choice. Flaming Doctor Corona is a drink waiting to happen.
Alcohol 77 is coming out on April 10 for 1200 yen per 500 ml bottle. 385 yen of that is alcohol tax, so we could see the Japanese government move to help distillers like Kikusui Shuzo.
Kikusui's motivation appears charitable. They say that after sustaining heavy damage during the 2018 flood season, they received a lot of help from all around. Making Alcohol 77 is part of their way of returning the favor.
Update April 6, 5:03PM: Of course as soon as this article goes live, I discover two more makers doing their own high-abv-but-wink-not-sanitizer spirits. Wakatsuru Saburomaru has used the Zemon to make a 77% abv spirit called Tonamino Spirits 77%, and Wa Vodka/Wa Gin maker Meiri Shurui has a 65% abv vodka called "Meiri 65% Vodka."