Mirin – Japanese Sweet Cooking Liqueur

Mirin, sometimes described as Japanese sweet cooking wine, is actually not wine but close to liqueur.

Steamed rice is mixed with Koji and Japanese distilled spirits Shochu.

Not like common liqueur no sugar or sweetener is added.

The enzymes breakdown carbohydrates of rice and Koji, which results the flavourful sweetness.

Here in Digby, Nova Scotia, we use Rum or Vodka instead of Shochu due to the availability.


Please be noted some countries have specific rules about home made alcohol (e.g. in Japan you add some salt to make it ‘non beverage’ to prevent violating the law). Check if you are not against any bylaws before you start.


Makes about 2 cups of Mirin


  • 300~400g/3cup    Koji (volume of fresh, how to make Koji)
  • 400g/1 ¾cup       Sweet rice (or short/medium grain Japanese rice)
  • 750ml       White rum or Vodka

*1cup = 250ml


  • 1        steamer or rice cooker
  • 1        cheese cloth (if steam rice)
  • 1        large mixing bowl
  • 1        mixing spoon
  • 1        large jar with lid (3 quarts)


(photos show double batch)

  1. Wash and soak rice for 1 hour to overnight.
  2. Wrap the rice with wet cheese cloth and steam until thoroughly cooked (40~50 minutes in a regular pot, 10~15 minutes in a pressure cooker).
    Alternatively cook in the rice cooker with 1/2 cup less water than normal cooking.
    4333 steamed rice
  3. Transfer the cooked rice in a large mixing bowl. Pour spirits over and mix well.
    mirin 4343
  4. Add Koji and mix well.
    mirin 4345
  5. Transfer into the jar. Set the lid and store in a dry, dark, cool place for 6 months or longer.
    mirin 4499
  6. After 6 months (or longer), strain with a fine strainer. Store the clear liquid into a clean jar in the room temperature.
    mirin 4353You can use the remind lees for various cooking, too.
    Mix it with soy sauce, miso or other seasonings and marinade meat, fish and vegetables.
    You can substitute cooking wine with it for stir fry, stew, etc. The lees can be frozen.

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