About us / Company information
Honkaku Spirits is devoted to bringing intensely artisanal Japanese spirits to discerning American customers with a particular focus on koji-based spirits including Honkaku (meaning authentic) Shochu, Ryukyu Awamori from Okinawa, and koji whiskey, an as-yet undefined but widely enjoyed category of whiskey. Working exclusively with family-run suppliers, Honkaku Spirits endeavors to introduce the finest traditional spirits Japan has to offer.
Bruce Gearhart retired in January 2020 after 15 years as President of Bacchus Importers. Previous to that, he spent 30 plus years in the music industry with his final position as Vice President of EMI Music. An avid soccer fan, senior “hoopster,” sports fisherman, and not one to back down from a challenge, Bruce was coaxed out of retirement by Honkaku Spirits with the promise of helping to establish a new category (if not more) in the U.S. Spirits business. When asked about additional hobbies/pursuits for this profile, Bruce answered “Winning.” We are lucky to have him on our team rather than facing off against him!
Christopher Pellegrini cut his teeth in alcohol as a teen brewer at Otter Creek Brewing Company in Middlebury, Vermont. He discovered shochu and awamori after moving to Tokyo while he was a full-time professor at Waseda University. In 2014, he published the first ever English language guide to shochu and awamori, The Shochu Handbook. He also contributed to The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, published in 2021. Christopher launched Honkaku Spirits in March 2020 (great timing, huh?) with the mission of bringing intensely artisanal Japanese spirits to discerning consumers worldwide. He also co-hosts two podcasts focused on the education of Japanese spirits: Japan Distilled and Sake on Air. Fluent in English and Japanese (conversational in Spanish and Korean), Christopher’s contribution to increasing global knowledge of Japanese spirits continues to shape opinion on this burgeoning category.
Stephen Lyman is the author of the James Beard Award nominated The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks. Currently based in Fukuoka, Japan, he is working on a shochu documentary, helps make handmade sweet potato shochu at Yamato Zakura Distillery every fall, and has been designated a Honkaku Shochu and Ryukyu Awamori Ambassador by the Japanese Cabinet Office. His deep appreciation for koji-based spirits inspired him to help launch Honkaku Spirits, and he co-hosts Japan Distilled with Christopher. He has done all this with one goal in mind: to realize his dream of being able to enjoy shochu and awamori in every bar in America.