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Ayu Masamune Shuzo was founded in 1875. Located in the city of Myoko, in Niigata Prefecture, opposite of Nagano prefectural border.

Natural spring water is one of the natural raw material for making Ayu Masamune sake. Sake nurtured by the natural spring water produces a soft taste in the mouth. Upon drinking, the sweetness can be immediately tasted, but soon disappears...


In Myoko Saruhashi district, Ayu Masamune Shuzo is graced with a land of heavy snowfall in Niigata Prefecture. Ayu Masamune sake is comfortably stored within the wine cellar, surrounded by deep snow of two meters. The temperature is kept at about 5 degrees, delicate care and attention is required to provide a stable environment for the sake nurture.

The kanji for Daiginjo sake is 大吟醸 and it translates to "Great delicately brewed sake".

Daiginjo sake are brewed with great care and attention, more than any other sake class. Daiginjo sake has the highest polishing ratio of 50% or less. Because of this, Daiginjo sake are considered a luxury drink.

Though the delicate processes, Daiginjo sake got its distinct smooth, light and fragrant characteristics, making it a sake that everyone enjoys!

Tanabe Shuzo started in 1899 and is located in the middle of the highway towards the Eiheiji from the center of Fukui plains, Echizen, This town has a clear stream of water from the Hakusan, making it known as the rich town of lush water. Tanabe Shuzo has won continuous Gold medals in the National Sake Appraisal and is also one of the breweries awarded with the largest number of Gold medals.

The kanji for Ginjo sake is 吟醸酒 and it translates to "delicately brewed sake".

Ginjo sake are brewed at low temperature for a prolonged period with rice, yeast, water and alcohol. The polishing ration for Ginjo sake is 60% or less. Ginjo sake has a characteristic flavor of fruity and lightness, sometimes even complex.

It is advised to only serve Ginjo sake chilled or at room temperature as heating will cause an inbalance with the aroma and taste!

Suzuki Shuzoten is one of the oldest continually operating sake houses in Japan, and one of Akita's most well known and respected breweries. Founded by Matsuemon Suzuki in 1689, the brewery has been run by the Suzuki family for 19 generations. The name Hideyoshi was given to the brewery by the local lord Satake. It is said that he tasted all of the sake in Akita and judged the sake of this brewery to be the very best. For over three centuries, Suzuki Shuzoten has strived to live up to the high standards set by the Hideyoshi name.

How has Suzuki Shuzoten been able to brew such premium generation after generation? The answer begins with the sake rice they use, which is almost always of higher quality and milling than is typical for the classification. This yields smoother sakes, with incredibly long finishes. Furthermore, the brewery is committed to using only local Akita sake rice, imparting the deep, rustic flavors to their sakes that make them so exceptionally food friendly. Add to that the skill and dedication of long-time toji Shigemasa Ishizawa, and you can see why Hideyoshi sake consistently finishes strongly at competitions.

Suzuki Shuzoten Awards

International Wine Challenge 2015

  • Silver Medal - Hideyoshi Junmai Daiginjo
  • Silver Medal - La Chamte
  • Silver Medal - Hideyoshi Junmaishu Genshu Ryuban
  • Bronze Medal - Hideyoshi Daiginjo Matsuemon
The kanji for Honjozo sake is 本醸造酒.

Honjozo sake is brewed with rice, yeast, water and alcohol. To be classified as a Honjozo sake, the polishing ratio must be 70% or less, and a small amount of alcohol is added in the brewing process (< 10%)

Honjozo sake usually have a dry and smooth taste - they tend to be lighter and have more fragrance than a Junmai sake! It is recommended to serve Honjozo sake at room temperature or slightly warm~

Long one of the most prominent breweries in the Niigata region,Ichishima Shuzo has been owned and operated by the Ichishima family since its founding in 1790. This illustrious clan played an important role in the history of the region, at one time operating a pharmaceutical company, shipping agency, and financing business in addition to the brewery. In the 1700's the Ichishimas were one of the five biggest land-holding families in the country,and it is said that one could walk the 40 miles from the brewery to Niigata city without leaving Ichishima property. The brewery continues to draw on its long history and access to local ingredients to produce some of the highest quality sake in a region known for premium production.

Despite its history and tradition, however, the brewery is no stranger to innovation. When the fourth president returned from a trip to Germany, he created the Aumont label in the style of European family crests, a label that Ichishima continues to use in Japan to this day. The brewery is also proud to be one of the first to open its doors to female brewery workers, something that was long resisted by other brewers throughout the country.

By managing to maintain tradition as well as an openmindedness, Ichishima Shuzo has been able to produce consistently high quality sake, as evidenced by its perennial status as a gold medal winner at the National New Sake Competition.

With Kenji Ichishima-san back in March 2015:

Ichishima Shuzo awards

NATIONAL NEW SAKE AWARDS JAPAN

  • 2014  Gold Medal
  • 2013  Awarded
  • 2012  Awarded
  • 2011  Gold Medal
  • 2010  Gold Medal

KANTO-SHINETSU REGIONAL SAKE CONTEST JAPAN

  • 2013  Winner / Junmai Class
  • 2012  Winner / Junmai Class
  • 2010  Winner / Ginjo Class
  • 2010  Winner / Junmai Class

INTERNATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE LONDON UK

  • 2014
    Silver Medal / Daiginjo Class - Ginnoyorokobi
    Bronze Medal / Junmai Daiginjo Class - Hidematsu "Yamabuki"
  • 2013
    Bronze Medal / Ginjokoshu - Aumontnenrin
  • 2012
    Silver Medal / Daiginjo Class - Hidematsu "Ai"
    Bronze Medal / Honjozo Class - Hidematsu "Aka"
    Bronze Medal / Junmai Daiginjo Class - Hidematsu "Yamabuki"
  • 2011
    Trophy & Gold Medal / Honjozo Class - Hidematsu "Aka"
    Silver Medal / Daiginjo Class - Hidematsu "Ai"
    Silver Medal / Junmai Daiginjo Class - Hidematsu "Yamabuki"
  • 2010
    Bronze Medal - SILK Delux
    Bronze Medal - Hizoukoshu Aumont Ginjogenshu

Imayotsukawa was founded in 1767. At the Imayotsukawa sake factory, only Niigata’s natural “Suganadake” spring water is used to make sake. Using this spring water and high quality sake rice, the sake is made with great care and has a strong, delicious flavor, even when compared to other dry sake. The historic factory building was built around 1900.

With Yosuke Tanaka-san of Imayotsukawa Shozu at IKYU in May 2015:
 

Imayotsukasa Shuzo Awards

INTERNATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE 2015

  • Bronze medal - Imayotsukasa Junmai Ginjo
  • Commended - Imayotsukasa Junmai Daiginjo Supreme
  • The kanji for Junmai is 纯米 and it translates to "pure rice".

    This sake is naturally brewed without alcohol added in the process - just simply rice, yeast and water. There is no specific polishing ratio for Junmai sake.

    Junmai sake generally has a slight acidic taste and is usually full-bodied. Junmai sake is great paired with food, so it is highly recommended for dinner time!

     

    Kiminoi Shuzo was founded in 1842 by the Tanaka family.
    The toji (master sake brewer), Hiroshi Hayatsu has been working at Kiminoi for more than 30 years perfecting his craft. Kiminoi sake brewery is a mid-sized brewery that has integrated modern sake production techniques with very traditional methods of making sake.

    During the Meiji period, the Emperor would come from Tokyo to visit Myokou and pray at the temple located next to Kiminoi. He would sample the local cuisine while enjoying the sake produced by Kiminoi and the brewery became well known for this honor. Kiminoi became known as the "Emperor's Well" due to this distinction.

    The master brewer at Kiminoi uses the traditional "yamahai" method of preparing the yeast starter for the fermentation process. This ancient and labor intensive production method creates deep, rich and full bodied sake Kiminoi combination of state of the art production technology, such as precise computer controlled rice milling machines, along with time honored, traditional methods is a hallmark of this sake brewery.

    In 1935 Kiminoi brewery was recognized for its outstanding sake by the awarding of the Gold Medal for being the #1 sake in Japan. In honor of this prestigious award the label of Kiminoi "Emperor's Well" Junmai Ginjo is decorated with a distinctive gold label. The fine quality of this Niigata sake producer continues to be recognized as Kiminoi won the Gold Medal for its Junmai Ginjo sakeat the 2006 Joy of Sake competition event held annually in the United States.

    Sake rice steaming as observed during our last visit to Kiminoi Shuzo:

    Kiminoi Shuzo Awards





    INTERNATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE 2015

  • SILVER MEDAL - Kiminoi Honjozo Josen
  • SILVER MEDAL - Kiminoi Junmai Daiginjo Yamahai
  • Founded by Yososaku Obata in 1892, OBATA SHUZO prides itself for using the traditional handmade methods for more than a hundred years, with great appreciation for the abundant nature that surrounds the beautiful island. OBATA SHUZO is located on Sado Island in Niigata. Starting with pure, high quality groundwater, and world-famous rice, Sado Island has become known as an excellent place to produce sake.

    Niigata prefecture is well-known as "JIZAKE KINGDOM".
    "JIZAKE" is the sake which is made in local area and in small amount. So usually JIZAKE is consumed only in the area around its brewery. Many Japanese sake fans love JIZAKE because of its quality , character and history.
    Niigata is named "JIZAKE KINGDOM" because there are so many small breweries which makes good quality sake.




    Obata Shuzo Awards

    International Wine Challenge 2015

    • Gold medal - Manotsuru Maho Daiginjo
    • Bronze medal - Manotsuru Junmai 1901

    National Sake Competition 2008

    • Gold medal - Manotsuru Maho Daiginjo

    International Wine Challenge 2007

    • Gold medal - Manotsuru Maho Daiginjo

    Musashino Shuzo was founded by the Kobayashi family in 1916. Located in Joetsu, Niigata, it enjoys deep cold winters, soft natural water from the Myoko mountains. It uses sake rice grown only from this town, making it a very boutique style sake. The company motto is to “Brew a sake you never get tired of drinking (Nomiaki Shinai Osake)”.

    1916 is the current Kobayashi house took on the Musashino Brewery (then Musashino Shuzo store).The Sakekabu system that continues from the Edo period to the early Meiji era, if you do not have a Sakekabu it is not possible to make a drink. Now that the founder of the training in the Edo returns to Echigo of the land, part of Sakekabu is handed down, it is said to be the beginning of the naming of the Musashino Brewery.

    All happy with our lucky draw winners during the Musashino sake dinner pairing event, held with Hisashi-san during his visit, at Tomi Sushi Novena.

    The kanji for Nigori sake is濁り酒 and it translates to “Cloudy Sake”. It can also be known as unfiltered sake.

    Nigori sake are processed through separation by pressing through a coarse cloth, retaining some residue, which in the end will affect the balance of the taste and flavour. The residues are in fact unfermented rice grains.

    Nigori sake is usually smooth and sweet, and creamy in texture. Remember to gently shake the Nigori sake, mixing the sediments, enjoying it in its full flavour!

    At Amami Oshima Nishikawa sake, we are working hard and sincerely in one of the Amami Islands "Tokunoshima". Brown sugar shochu is our speciality - the main raw material is brown sugar and natural spring water from the nature of Tokunoshima.

    From Kagoshima Prefecture, the mainland to the south about 500km -. It is located almost in the center of the Amami Islands, surrounded by a sea of emerald green. The average annual temperature is 21.1 degrees and mild, such as a special natural monument of Amami rabbit and the Ryukyu salicina, also extant valuable life. Clean water which is indispensable to the delicious brown sugar shochu is nurtured in the earth of this rich island.

    We always take advantage of the five senses, taking careful management. The proper use several storage container, you can refine the gem of whiskeys. And cordially to one by one, we have to ship by hand. These brings out the best taste and aroma of brown sugar, please enjoy all means the master brewer proud of gem.

    Do you know the type of cup you use for sake drinking affects the taste and aroma of your sake? Experiment with different styles of cups and carafe chillers to find your favorite way to enjoy sake.

    Cups with thinner rims give a smoother taste and tin sake cups is good at retaining temperature, make it ideal for warm/chilled sake!

    Senkin may be the oldest brewery in Tochigi, founded in 1806, but the current success of the brewery is due to the forward thinking of the 11th generation Usui brothers. Kazuki Usui's motto of "new meets old" has led senkin to stay ahead of the competition by using modern methods while improving traditional practices. Senkin has two main lines to their products, the Modern and the Classic line. The Classic line stays true to their heritage as a brewery with over 200 years of brewing knowledge; while their Modern Line creates innovative, trend-setting brews that modern drinkers have come to acknowledge and appreciate.

    Kaba Shuzo was founded in 1704 in Hide, Gifu Prefecture. The aftertaste of the sake brewed in the prefecture is refreshing and full-bodied. The harsh difference between cold and warm weather in the Hida region enhances the character of the Hidahomare rice used in the brewing process.

    Kaba Shuzo Awards

    International Wine Challenge 2015

    • Bronze Medal - Shiramayumi Junmai Ginjo
    • Commended - Shiramayumi Junmai
    • Commended - Shiramayumi Janpan Sparkling

    Started in 1880, Tenryohomare Shuzo originates from Nagano Prefecture. It is famous for its record snowfall and the rich clean spring water used to make its sake. Tenryohomare Shuzo keeps their sake in snow, allowing it to mature more slowly, enhancing its delicate fragrant character.

    Boutique Japanese Whiskies