(REUTERS) - For centuries, trees have provided mankind with daily necessities such as paper and rubber, now, scientists in Japan have discovered a new use for trees: making booze.
Recycling with a difference - the alcoholic drink being poured with reverence was once a cherry tree.
It's the result of nearly a decade of research into environmentally friendly ways of processing wood into alcohol-based fuels.
Mr Yuichiro Otsuka, a researcher at Japan's Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, says: "We weren't thinking of alcohol in the beginning. We were trying to develop a new way to disintegrate wood when we realised the whole process could be done solely with food additives."
The method involves fermenting pulverised wood with water and yeast, producing a drink that resembles a drink aged in a wooden barrel in just 10 days.
So far, drinks have been produced from cherry blossom, cedar and white birch trees. Four kilograms of cedar produces up to 3.8 litres of booze - with an alcohol content of 15 per cent.
Mr Otsuka adds: "Japan has more than 1,200 different types of trees and we do not know what kind of flavour each tree will produce unless we try. Some trees may produce flavour that surprises us, so we want to try out as many trees as possible."
The country's love affair with cherry trees cannot be overstated, with the blooms widely celebrated in Japanese literature, poetry and art.
Mr Otsuka says: "Many people hold cherry blossom viewings during the second half of April, and I made this alcohol because I wanted them to drink this then."
The drinks are yet to be approved for consumption - but the team hope they will be on sale within the next few years.