320 Year Old Brewery in Snow Country (Thursday, December 1st, 2011)
Hinomaru Jozo Co., Ltd.
Located in the northwestern part of Japan and in the basin at the foot of the Ou Mountains, Yokote in Akita Prefecture is recognized as one of Japan’s heaviest snowfall areas. Blessed with beautiful nature, it has traditionally thrived as a rice farming region, home of Hinomaru Jozo, a long-established company, producing sake since 1689.
Every single condition for brewing great sake is all set in the area: the undercurrent water from the Ou Mountain range, locally grown sake rice, the techniques passed down for centuries, and the passion of the brewers. With the belief that “Sake is alive, and the quality of sake is determined by the brewer’s mind and attitude toward sake brewing,” they strive for sake quality that is well balanced in distinctive body and sharp aftertaste. They are also particular about handcraft production, as they use local well spring water and mill their own sake rice.
Although they produce a wide variety of drinks such as shochu, liqueur, and umeshu (plum wine) in addition to sake, only five selected sakes are available in NY: two from the commercially popular Mansaku no Hana series, and three from the limited Manabito brand that appeal to connoisseurs. Yamahai Junmai Daiginjo Mansaku no Hana is made with the traditional kimoto style brewing method, which gives it fuller and milder flavor. Junmai Ginjo Benimansaku is light and very easy to drink, even for beginners. Ginjo Manabito is well balanced and really approachable. Junmai Daiginjo Manabito is smooth yet rich and has a distinctive fragrance. Again, made using the kimoto method, Kimoto Junmai Ginjo Manabito is a semi-dry sake that is powerful enough to go well with rich flavored dishes.
What should also be noted about the relationship between Hinomaru’s brewing process and flavor is the way they store and age sake. Freshly pressed sake is bottled in order to minimize deterioration in quality from oxidization as well as to carefully age it, resulting in round, elegant and beautiful flavor. When you sip Hinomaru’s sake, you will appreciate the energy of each drop of sake that was infused with the spirit of the snowy country.
Hinomaru Jozo Co., Ltd.
114-2 Nanokamachi, Masudamachi, Yokote-shi, Akita
Three things you should know about Hinomaru Jozo
1. Hinomaru Brewing Co. produces sake with a 320 year tradition of technology and craftsmanship. Using spring water obtained from the brewery’s well, sake rice grown in in-house farms, and utilizing traditional “kimoto” brewing methods, they have handcrafted sake for over 320 years.
2. They are particular about the method of preservation and aging. To preserve the quality of their sake, they try to avoid tank storage as much as possible, and use the bottle preservation method just like wine making. The number of bottles (110,000 at 1.8 liter each) far surpasses that of other breweries in Akita Prefecture.
3. They are aiming to produce small quantity but high quality sake. Their efforts have brought splendid results in several competitions. They were awarded gold medals 10 times in the last 15 years at the Japan National New Sake Appraisal, 1st place for Ginjo Special Brew sake category at the Akita Prefecture Sake Fair in 2009 and 1st place for Junmai Pure Rice sake category at the Akita Prefecture Sake Fair in 2011.