Sharing Joy through Sake and Shochu (Friday, April 1st, 2011)
Kitaya Co., Ltd.
Surrounded by a nature rich environment in the northern part of Kyushu, Kitaya produces both sake and shochu. Kitaya is a family business founded in the Edo period around 190 years ago, and the current president, Kohtaroh Kinoshita is the seventh generation descendant of the founder. “When the company was founded, it was named after the wish; ‘We want to share a lot of joy through sake. We want to be a brewery that brings people a lot of joy.’ The spirit is inherited through generations,” Mr. Kinoshita explains their company philosophy. This is why the characters in the name Kitaya translate to “The House of Lots of Joy.” Also, the founder and the first president of Kitaya, Saikichi Kinoshita, left them with the family rule, “The master of the company should make sake himself.” This means not relying on outside brewing staff. Even today, the president himself helms the sake-making team and works as executive producer of the company.
Yame City in Fukuoka Prefecture is the home of Kitaya, whose abundant natural resources allows them to harvest high quality green tea, rice, mandarin oranges, strawberries, pears, grapes and bamboo. Kitaya makes the best out of the blessed nature around them for producing their sake and shochu. They use the clear water of the subterranean stream of the Yabe River drawn from 40 meters below the brewery and locally grown rice, Yamadanishiki and Yumeikkon varieties.
Kitaya is also serious about pioneering technological developments. Today, many premium shochu makers tend to employ “reduced-pressure distillation”, a distilling method taken from perfume, but Kitaya is the first company that applied the method for making alcohol in 1971.
Currently, five sakes and three shochus from Kitaya are available in the U.S., including Junmai Dai-Ginjo KANSANSUI series, Junmai KITAYA, and Junmai Sparkling AI NO HIME series as well as shochus Gokoo, Jinkoo, and Gyokuro. Especially, Gokoo (Comfortable Sky) and Jinkoo (Perfect Sky) were both wisely named with the character “koo” (sky), and both of them have been offered to executive class customers on Japan Airlines international flights for eight years.
Kitaya Co., Ltd.
374 Motomachi, Yame City, Fukuoka 834-0031
www.kitaya.co.jp (Japanese only)
Three things you should know about Kitaya Co., Ltd.
1. AI NO HIME Sparkling Sake
Named after the legendary local princess, AI NO HIME (princess of love) is an elegantly sparkling sake. Employing double fermentation, the same process used to make champagne, it produces natural carbonation. It comes in two flavors, regular and beni, and the the beni’s pink color comes from the red koji microorganisms used in the fermentation process. The alcohol content is low, at 7% and the flavor is sweet and light.
2.Gyokuro (Excellent Green) Shochu
Yame City is famous for being the number one producer of the highest quality green tea, gyokuro. Made with local rice and gyokuro, the shochu has a very rich green tea aroma. It’s delicious on-the-rocks or cut with cold or hot water. Of course, it’s great for a base of green tea cocktail, which are getting more and more popular in the U.S.
3. Daiginjo Sake
Kitaya takes pride in their skill to produce high quality, daiginjo class sake. Their daiginjo sake has won the first prize in the Fukuoka Division of National Tax Agency (Fukuoka, Saga, and Nagasaki Prefectures) Alcohol Award Competition 3 times in the last 18 years. In the U.S., KANSANSUI “Cold Mountain Water” and KANSANSUI KASUMIZAKE are available.