BY Haco JUL 14, 2017
On June 28, 2017, twenty-three sake breweries gathered from Miyagi prefecture to Happoen in Tokyo, holding the Tanabata Party. Customers enjoyed delicious Miyagi’s sake and Happoen’s wonderful cuisine and famous Tanabata decoration from Sendai city.
OHACO interviewed seven sake breweries in this time. There are many interesting stories that you can only read here. Enjoy!
The popular sparkling sake “Suzune”, in fact it was a maverick!It is a beautiful pink sparkling sake that attracts a lot of attention at the venue. Ichinokura’s CEO Mr. Matsumoto, who made this gorgeous pink sparkling sake “Hanameku Suzune”, told us the secret story of the birth of “Suzune”.
★A new sake idea comes from bad sake imagesJapanese sake is not as popular as 30 years ago. In order to know the reason, Ichinokura investigated young people and women about their dislikes of sake. The results were awful. People just do not like the taste, smell and even image. Therefore, at Ichinokura, they started to develop a sake that is mild in smell and light and refreshing in taste, plus, a low alcohol degree that is totally opposite of a traditional sake. And this is the sparkling sake “Suzune”. Sparkling sake were not main stream at that time so there were many negative voices in the beginning, but now it has grown into a popular category. Ichinokura acquired a patent for sparkling sake, which is open to other brewers. Sparkling sake “Suzune” born from the idea of reversal, certainly appreciated!
The sake industry maverick “Suzune” continues to evolve further. The evolved products are “Hanameku Suzune” and “Shiawase no Kiiroi Suzune”. Both sparkling sake use natural pigments for coloring. “Hanameku Suzune” uses locally produced black beans and purple black rice and “Shiawase no Kiiroi Suzune” uses petals of safflower to show mimosa yellow.
Because these products are targeting women, they selected special materials such as using black beans containing a lot of isoflavones for beautify and using safflower that is said to cure diseases afflict to women. On the other hand, quality control is very difficult as compared with the case where artificial coloring is used because natural pigment will fade with exposure to ultraviolet light and air. Even though, Ichinokura still stick with natural pigment. Considering color discoloration, difficulty in long-term refrigeration preservation, it is best to drink within one month after manufacture.
“Hanamusuku Suzune” is sold twice a year in spring and Christmas season. ” Shiawase no Kiiroi Suzune” is sold only in summer.
Special Sake Brewed by the Prince of SushiMr.Hirai, CEO of Hitakami is the Prince of Sushi. He is commitment to ke brewing sake compatible with sushi. Especially he is focusing on brewing sake that is suitable for locally caught natural fish in Ishinomaki. He has introduced two types of Junmaishu that can only be purchased in Miyagi.
This Hitakami Karakuchi Honjozo was made with awareness of seafood available in Ishinomaki. The cute illustration of seafood is drawn on the label. These are all signatures of Ishinomaki seafood. The characteristic of this sake is to complement the seafood to the utmost. Therefore, its aroma is very soft, and has a clear and elegant taste, and with a dry finish. We can feel Mr. Hirai’s strong passion for Ishinomaki through the taste of the sake, the aroma, and the label design.
★Made in MiyagiMr. Hirai introduced a newly released sake called “Daccha”. It is made with Miyagi’s ingredients. To make Daiginjo, it is popular to use Yamadanishiki rice but he uses Miyagi’s rice “Kuranohana”. He is so disappointed that there are no Kobo (yeast) in Miyagi which means, he cannot make 100% made in Miyagi sake.
This Daiginjo has a very fresh and dry taste that Yamadanishiki cannot have. And this is also perfectly compatible with seafood. We wish Sushi prince’s sake and great seafood in Ishinomaki can give more power to rebuild Miyagi from 3.11 (the East Japan Earthquake, 11th March, 2011)!
Hoyo is the oldest sake brewer in Miyagi with a history of 356 years. Once upon a time, Master Masamune Date ordered to Hoyo to build a post-station town in Tomiya city and then they start sake brewing. Post-station towns were built every 8 km and played a role in honoring the Daimyo which means Japanese feudal lord. Along with that, sake breweries increased and sake making became popular in this area. We asked what kind of ambition to make sake for a 29 – year – old young craftsman Mr.Uchigasaki, who is making sake with a venerable sake brewery.
★The balance between umami and scent is important
Mr. Uchigasaki introduced Junamidaiginjo Hoyo. Its taste is very light and slightly sweet because it uses Miyagi’s rice “Kuranohana”. He said he tries to make sake that fits Japanese food. It will disturb the meal if the aroma is too strong, but it is also not good if the aroma is too weak. It is difficult to make the best balance. Sake taste is also same; if sake taste is too light it will fit all foods, but it will lose its signature. Therefore he makes sake by trial and error so that he can produce a delicious and well balanced sake.
This sake sales in the U.S. and the U.K. are top-notch, accounting for about 15% of the total sales. It is great encouragement that a sake made by a traditional brewery and be accepted overseas.