May 16 • 22M

Sake Industry News. Issue #64.

Know More. Appreciate More.

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Sake Industry News is a twice-monthly newsletter covering news from within the sake industry in Japan.
Episode details

Welcome to Issue #64 of SIN.

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the industry. As we have reported previously, sake events are starting to return to regularity, which is obviously a huge plus for breweries, restaurants and bars that have been doing it tough for the past couple of years. Unfortunately, despite this turn of good tidings for the industry, we lead off this issue's news on a somber note. Rest assured we have some positive news to report as well, and we hope we can continue to bring news of a more optimistic nature in the future.

Now here's the news...

Fire Destroys Historic Brewery

Ibaraki- Devastating news this past week with the reports of a severe fire breaking out at Yūki Shuzō popular maker of Yui.

At approximately 2:30pm on May 11, a fire ignited in the brewery’s boiler room and quickly spread throughout the 428-year old Edo Period building structures and the attached family home of the kuramoto. Firefighters managed to get the blaze under control by 8:30pm, however it wasn't declared extinguished until approximately 3:00am the next morning - almost 13 hours after the fire started. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Two of the buildings destroyed in the inferno were registered as Tangible Cultural Properties. A third, the brewery's brick smokestack, survived the devastation.

In the slimmest of silver linings, the brewery's refrigerated storage facility survived the fire and by the following day, supporters and well wishers from across the area and wider Japan descended on the brewery to assist in transporting the surviving sake bottles to neighboring breweries for storage.  

SIN will be sure to report on any ways readers can support Yūki Shuzō and kuramoto, Michiko Urasato during this impossibly difficult time, however in the meantime the Ibaraki brewers have banded together to collect support donations domestically. Residents of Japan can donate directly by bank transfer to the following account:

常陽銀行 結城支店⁡

普通 1502819⁡


Joyo Bank  Yuki Branch

Normal account: 1502819

Shinketsu Shuzou Kumiai

Alternatively, please show support by purchasing Yui sake wherever possible.

結城酒造 , 結ゆい

JG: Fires are a real problem in the sake industry, and this is at least the third such fire about which I have heard in the last several years. Wooden structures that are several hundred years old are especially vulnerable to fires starting, and the cavernous interiors of most sake breweries make fires extra challenging to extinguish. There is little that can be done other than maintain extra vigilance. Recovery may be challenging, but the outpouring of support that I have seen in just the past few days suggests that somehow they will get back on their feet. Let us all offer thoughts and actions that Yūki Shuzō can recover in whatever way they choose to do so. There is not much else to say. Thanks too that no one was hurt!

IWC Award Results

London- The results of the 16th (for sake) IWC Awards were announced on May 12. This year a record 1732 submissions were considered in nine categories: futsūshu, junmai, junmai ginjō, junmai daiginjō, honjōzō, ginjō, daiginjō, sparkling and aged sake.

Gold medals went to 80 recipients with 732 medals being awarded overall. A full list of winners can be found here in English and here in Japanese

Congratulations to all the winners.

JG: While there are a handful of sake tasting competitions outside of Japan, IWC is surely the most influential for now. As such, it is worthwhile to follow the results, but of course, trust your own preferences as well.

I was a judge this year, as I have been almost every year since the inception of the event. Two years ago it was canceled due to COVID and last year it was limited to only local judges. This year, there seemed to be a relatively high level of quality, but also, a handful of also-rans were in the mix too. As such, we judges had to remain vigilant and be as discriminating as possible. I look forward to the privilege of tasting in the event again next year.

Hiroshima Getting In Shape

Hiroshima- The Hiroshima Fermentation Research Collective (made up of Miwa Shuzō, Fujii Shuzō, Kyokuho Shuzō) released its first sake made with rice that was milled using the modern shingin method.

The shingin method of milling, which was developed by rice milling machine producer Satake, enables brewers to produce cleaner, elegant styles of sake without milling to higher rates by using two similar methods known as genkei and henpei. These milling methods follow the practice of maintaining the rice grain’s natural shape when milling as opposed to milling into a round, ball shape (for more detail see issue#14).

The Hiroshima Fermentation Research Collective was only established this year, and Hajime (The Beginning) marks the group’s first release.

A tasting set containing a 720ml, unpasteurized version of each of the three brewery’s take on the Hajime is available at JPY6600. 

The brewing specs for each sake are mostly the same allowing drinkers to enjoy each brewery's unique approach and style of brewing.

A pasteurized release will be available in July.

Source - Sake Times PR

JG: Satake is doing a great job of marketing the concept of these two new variations on milling, and being inclusive too by making it possible for their main competitor to be classified as Shingin too. This should go far in making the technical aspects of sake even more interesting to us average consumers. 

三輪酒造(神雷), 藤井酒造(龍勢), 旭鳳酒造(旭鳳), 始-HAJIME

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