How to use koji to make an Old-Fashioned

In September, Ann Soh Woods, founder of Kikori whiskey, hosted an all-night workshop in downtown Los Angeles’ arts district highlighting koji. Woods chose the location, Baroo, a Korean restaurant focused on fermentation, and invited a Japanese koji expert for his guests to learn more about this ancient ingredient. The conversation was accompanied by koji-infused bites such as chicken katsu and koji-fermented sourdough bread, as well as craft cocktails made with Kikori whiskey.

The reason Soh Woods felt inclined to expand people’s knowledge of koji was because it was a crucial ingredient in the creation of Kikori.

“I talk about koji a lot. It’s so important. This is essential to creating a Kikori,” said Ann Soh Woods. “I would mention digestive enzymes, asparagus and molds. Then I would wait and watch this glassy look fall on my audience. Whether it was a consumer, a bar, a restaurant, a media outlet, a distributor, it always happened.

ALSO WATCH: Koji, an ancient Japanese superfood, is having fun

She didn’t want to lose her audience right away. Then she had an idea.

“When I talk about this particular step in making Kikori, I’m talking about how we take the rice and sprinkle it with fairy dust,” she said with a laugh. “Actually, I’m not that far off, because koji is almost magical, mystical and it’s definitely extremely versatile. …To start this conversion of starch to sugar, we add this “fairy dust”. »

“It’s actually a mold called koji. We use white koji. Let it sit for about 24 hours before adding water and yeast. It rests for about 6 days and we add it to a second puree. Then it is distilled in a stainless steel still to retain the flavor of the rice as much as possible. Low temperature, low pressure. Then we age in barrels in three different types: American, French and cherry barrels for 3 to 8 years.

Soh Woods wanted to show how miso and Kikori whiskey work well together at home, so she shared this version of an Old Fashioned with us. Appreciate!

Old-style Kikori Miso


1.5 ounces of distilled whiskey

0.5 ounce miso-infused simple syrup (recipe below)

4 dashes of aromatic bitters

Shiso leaf

orange peel


Combine all ingredients in an Old Fashioned glass and stir. add a large ice cube or ice cubes. Garnish with a shiso leaf and orange zest.

Miso-infused simple syrup


1 cup of sugar

1 cup of water

1.5 oz red miso paste (Cold Mountain Kyoto Red Miso recommended)


Combine the sugar, water and miso paste in a saucepan and place over medium heat, bringing to a boil, stirring with a whisk every few minutes. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes, whisking until everything is well mixed. Carefully strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth placed in a colander and refrigerate until use.

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