Sake that Captures the Essence of the North (Saturday, August 1st, 2015)
Takasago Shuzo, Inc.
Takasago Shuzo was established in 1899 in the heart of Asahikawa, Hokkaido, a coveted place among all nature enthusiasts and food lovers for its rich natural environment. In 1926 they were the first brewery in Hokkaido to win the National Sake Competition, and since then, the brewery has had steady followers, but the operation remained small, which gave them the flexibility to evolve with the times. In 1975, they catered to the changing palate of the generation who preferred the crisp and dry “Tanrei Karakuchi “ styles, coming out with Kokushi Muso, a sake still popular today.
Long, severe cold winter and heavy snow are not always desirable for living, but Takasago takes advantage of the climate to produce its unique “cold brew” sake that can only be made in Asahikawa. In the 90s, they established snow cave facilities to brew and store sake in the ice-cold environment that allows slow fermentation, creating a smooth sake with the rich taste of the rice. Today, they continue to experiment with locality to bring a unique kind of terroir to the sake they produce, including launching a project called Nouka no Sake (Farmer’s sake) where they collaborate with local residents to grow local rice create the special small batch sake.
Takasago’s sakes are characterized by crisp, bright and clean tastes produced through the cold winter and the quality of the water they use. Currently four sakes from Takasago are available in the U.S., all of which exemplify the versatility of the brewery. Ginga Shizuku (junmai daiginjo) is aromatic with a rich taste that is best enjoyed chilled, pairing well with sashimi of white fish or grilled Pacific saury. Taisetsu (junmai ginjo) took home the gold in the Atsukan (warmed sake) Competition. It has a citrusy aroma and clean finish. It is great on Camembert cheese and mashed potato topped with cheese. Kokushi Muso (junmai) is sharp and dry sake with crisp, refreshing aftertaste. Kokushi Muso Koku (junmai) is sweet and tangy that can be enjoyed like wine. In every bottle, there is a different essence of Asahikawa captured inside.
Takasago Shuzo, inc.
3 things you should know about Takasago Shuzo, inc.
A Century Old, Landmark Building
With white plaster walls and wooden structure, Takasago Meiji Sakagura (Meiji Era Style Building) was built in 1909 and used for brewing and storing. Over a century after that, it is now open to the public as a flagship store, event hall and gallery to exhibit archival documents. It is an important landmark of the brewery as well as the city of Asahikawa.
Affluent Water Optimal for Sake Brewing
Water from Mt. Daisetsu is what the brewery uses for brewing their sake. The water is soft with minimal hard minerals, which is ideal for sake-making. In the Taisho era (1912-26), this water supplied 16 breweries in the region.
Hand-crafting Sake in the Microbrewery
Takasago intentionally keeps their production scale small, so a majority of the sake can be made by hand. They also use the Asahikawa climate to its fullest potential, creating lines that are actually squeezed in the snow. This is the ultimate microbrewery rooted in the Asahikawa region.