BY Haco AUG 8, 2017
On July 23, 2017, thirty-one sake breweries from Gifu prefecture gathered at Josui-Kaikan in Tokyo, for Gifu’s sake event.
OHACO had the opportunity to interview seven of those sake breweries. Their stories can only be read here. Please enjoy this peek into there little-known world!!
Wakaba Sake Brewery is over 300 years old. They hold onto traditions in order to continue to brew sake that is loved by the locals. Mr. Ito, CEO of Wakaba, introduced his sake as follows.
★Wakaba Junmaishu: It’s called “Pink Wakaba” and it is loved by local mothers!
Wakaba Junmaishu is made with ingredients from Gifu. The rices used are called Hidahomare and Asahino-Yume which are paired with local yeast and water from Wakaba’s well. This sake is for a daily drink and thus the price is really reasonable. Mr. Ito said, “If the fragrance of this sake is too strong, it might get in the way of meals. Therefore, this sake has a very weak fragrance but when you drink it, a gorgeous fragrance spreads from within your mouth and allows you to enjoy the rich taste of the sake in that moment. It fits very well with Japanese food, seasonable vegetables, Chinese food, and cheese. It could be fun to drink this sake with different kinds of food.” This is the kind of sake you’ll want to keep at home!
★About water for making sake
You cannot buy water for making sake water in liquor shops. If you want to taste water for making sake, you would usually have to go to a brewery. However, Mr. Ito brought his water for making sake to the event and was eager to discuss it. “We use natural water from our well. It is soft water. Because it is well water, the water keeps flowing in and out. Water quality becomes poorer when the flow comes to a halt,” Mr. Ito told us. We learned from this comment that he really pays attention to the small details of each step in sake manufacture. Water is one of the core ingredients that create the taste of the sake so comparing the water used by each brewery in making sake can teach us a lot.
Otsuka Sake Brewery
We interviewed Mr. Otsuka who is a young sake master and the 6th generation owner of this brewery. He is a young man but he places a high value on tradition and beliefs.
★Takesuzume Yamahai Junamaishu: Warmed sake is recommended not only in winter but also in the summer.
We were very surprised because Mr. Otsuka brought a warmed sake kit despite the hot summer weather. We asked him, “Are you going to make warmed sake even in summer?” Mr. Otsuka proudly answered, “In summer time, majority is cold but now, air conditioners are very effective and therefore the indoors are often cold. If you drink a lot of cold sake in a cold room, your stomach will hurt. Thus, for your health, you should drink warmer drinks in the cooled air and as a result, your appetite will also improve. Therefore, I push warmer sake even in summer time!” He warmed Takesuzume Yamahai Junamaishu to 55 degrees Celsius and the taste became more sour and dry. As he said, we were able to enjoy warmed sake even in summer! We highly recommend it!
This kimoto sake was born because Mr. Otsuka wanted to make an iconic new sake using local rice and yeast from his sake brewery. This sake has a mild, yogurt aroma and the aftertaste is very refreshing. Mr. Otsuka has been making sake from seven years ago. He tries to make sake which can be enjoyed together with meals by steadily bringing out the sourness and the taste of rice. He said, “I believe that customers can understand its taste if they drink it, regardless of age.”
In this brewery, a lady sake master with more than ten years of experience has been plying her trade. She was very humble and said, “I learn something new about sake every day.”
★Shirayukihime Daiginjo: feeling elegant and feminine from this daiginjo.
This sake has elegant and sweet aroma, like rice. Usually, this type of daiginjo has a rich and thick taste. However, this sake is not like that. It has a very light texture and comes with a belated umami. You are able to imagine femininity, tenderness, glamor, and strength. This sake is Ms. Watanabe, herself. She described this sake for us, saying, “We use soft and high quality water; therefore, the taste becomes very mild and soft.”
★Asachan no Doburoku Nama: Very popular sake for ladies.
Doburoku is milky white color of sake and it is fermenting in the bottle. So when you drink it you can feel and enjoy natural bubbles. It has sweet floral aroma and sour taste such as lactic acid beverage. Usually Doburoku is thick and not easy to drink but this doburoku is totally opposite. Therefore it is very popular for ladies.