Enticing the World with Flower Yeast Sake (Tuesday, April 1st, 2014)
Tenju Shuzo Co., Ltd.
It matters not if you are thousands of feet above it in an airplane, or approaching in a lightweight jeep on a country road. From the moment the sight of the majestic Mount Chokai comes into view the tour of Tenju Brewery begins. The mountain is at once the poetic inspiration and the actual natural resource for the sake brand, Chokaisan, which bears its name.
In 1874 Eikichi Ohi founded Tenju Brewery in Yashima Village in Akita Prefecture. Akita is the fourth largest producer of sake in Japan and Yashima Village is the number one producing region within Akita. Fewer than 6,000 people reside in the quaint, provincial town of Yashima yet they have affected the world of sake through their love of sake, their devotion to sake culture, and their continued pursuit of excellence in sake craftsmanship.
An enormous feat when one considers the severity of conditions during sake-making season in Akita. Daily snowfall engulfs the brewery and weighs heavily on the 140 year old structure. Inside the brewery hardworking kurabito (sake brewers) do their best to harness the forces of nature taking advantage of the snow-cold temperature to craft sake using the long, slow ‘Sannai’ method.
Tenju Brewery’s philosophy is, “Sake making is rice making.” They exclusively commission farmers from 25 rice paddies. Every employee has worked from planting, to growing to harvesting seasons. Thirty years ago Tenju Brewery was the first to organize a research group of farmers and sake brewers.
Tenju also worked hand in hand with Tokyo Agricultural University to develop flower yeast. Four uniquely different flower yeasts are used to create a wide selection of sake. Most notably, Chokaisan Junmai Daiginjo, the multiple award winning sake, is made from yeast propagated from the delicate, pink nadeshiko flower. The yeast mimics an enticing, highly pronounced perfume that is both floral and fruity on the nose. The taste of Asian pear, crisp apple, and anise are astonishingly delicate on the palate. With a satiny smooth mouthfeel, it is great with creamy oysters and a platter of mild to bold soft cheeses.
Tenju Shuzo Co., Ltd.
117 Jonai aza Hachimorishita, Yashima-machi, Yurihonjo-shi, Akita 015-0411 Japan
3 things you should know about Tenju Shuzo Co., Ltd.
Sake Making is Rice Making
Without the very best rice one cannot make the very best sake.
Tenju is devoted to supporting local farmers. By working exclusively with 25 commissioned farmers, the brewery can ensure that only the highest quality rice comes to their brewery. Furthermore, Tenju works with farmers on the continued development of local rice strains such as Akita Sake Komachi and Miyamanishiki.
The development and propagation of flower yeast is epoch in the storied history of sake making. The President of Tenju Brewery was a student of Professor Hisayasu Nakata of Tokyo University of Agriculture who discovered possibilities of flower yeast for sake in 1998. Tenju Brewery has been instrumental in the development of flower yeast strains; embracing tradition, at the forefront of modern advancement.