Shochu began in Korea (called soju), moved to Japan and has become the beverage of choice (in 2003 overtaking sake) in homes, bars and restaurants. It is distilled like vodka from potatoes or grains, and Haamonii president James Key Lim believes that the market would respond to a premium shochu distilled from high quality wheat and barley. Working with the mixologist at Frank-Lin in San Jose (the producer and California distributor), he developed a product with a "smooth, balanced mouth-feel; with harmony," which is "haamonii" in Japanese. "We moved the flavor profile from strong flavors and an alcohol bite to the sense of a quiet moment when you taste ours and say, 'wow,' Lim explains. "It's like moving from the high-fruit-and-alcohol impact of a California cabernet to the elegant Bordeaux grand crus."