Sake Nurtured in the Snow Country (Friday, February 1st, 2013)
Niigata Prefecture is one of the heaviest snowfall regions in Japan and the climate is the reason that the prefecture is well-known for producing great sake. AOKISHUZO was founded in 1717 in the Uonuma region in Niigata and has produced sake under the brand name Kakurei, which was created for the locals who were naturally sake connoisseurs.
“Although we have a 300 year old history, have accumulated knowledge and skill, as well as reputation, every year we reset our minds as we begin brewing sake. The subtle climate change of each year affects a lot of things, and trends and lifestyles are also constantly transforming. In order to catch these little changes, we try sake brewing with a fresh approach,” says Mr. Tsutomu Abe, International Sales Manager of AOKISHUZO.
In addition to this fresh state of mind, when brewing sake at AOKISHUZO, wago (harmonization) is valued the most. It is this wago among “producers” including the chief brewer, young brewers and the rice farmers, “sellers” such as liquor shops and restaurants and “drinkers” who love drinking Kakurei, that brings forth the finest sake. While keeping the wago in mind, the brewery aims at brewing sake that is “tanrei umakuchi” (light but full of umami from rice), which can accompany meals well. These are the secrets of longevity of this brewery and the Kakurei brand.
Just a few years ago, AOKISHUZO embarked on foreign distribution. Today in New York, we can enjoy three types of Kakurei sake: daiginjo, junmai ginjo, and umeshu (plum sake). Kakurei Daiginjo is aromatic, slightly floral, fullbodied with hints of pear and apple and a clean finish. Enjoyed chilled or at room temperature and great with elegant and light dishes such as sashimi or white meat fish carpaccio. Kakurei Junmai Ginjo has more distinct rice flavor and boasts mild sweetness. It complements meat dishes so well and it is recommended to drink chilled or slightly warm. Soaking ume plum in genshu (undiluted sake), Kakurei Umeshu boasts great balance of sweet and citrus flavors to be enjoyed on its own as an apperitif and digestif.
1214 Shiozawa Minamiuonuma City, Niigata
3 things you should know about AOKISHUZO
AOKISHUZO boasts the highest share of using Koshitanrei sake rice developed in Niigata Prefecture. As a strain of the most esteemed sake rice Yamadanishiki and Gohyakumangoku, the Koshitanrei variety tends to produce elegant sweetness and a sharp finish. The brewery has an in-house rice field of the Koshitanrei variety and controls quality of rice and sake.
Founded almost 300 years ago, AOKISHUZO is a long-established brewery, deeply rooted in their local Uonuma area. In their three centuries long history, the brewery has witnessed the transition of society, technology, lifestyle and food culture, and the brewery’s sake production has successfully kept up with the essence of each age.
AOKISHUZO is particular about maintaining handmade small batch production in order to control taste and quality. Every year it brews about 2,000-gokus (1 goku = 180.39L) of the finest sake only during the wintertime, valuing cold sake production.