Jun 1 • 20M

Sake Industry News. Issue #65.

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.
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Welcome to issue #65 of SIN.

No doubt many of our overseas readers are watching the news from Japan with bated breath as the announcement of borders opening to tourists edges closer and closer. At the time of writing, entry will be permitted to those in group package tours or fixed itineraries from June 10, but surely it won't be long before any and all can come and catch up on all things Japan and sake.

This issue we see more award results coming in and an industry first as one brewery tackles the NFT market. Nice to see a return to positivity and optimism!

And now here's the news...

Fukushima Continues To Reign

Japan- The results of the 110th Japan Sake Awards (AKA the National New Sake Awards) were announced on May 25, and for the ninth consecutive year, Fukushima Prefecture breweries led the country with a haul of 17 gold medals.

The Japan Sake Awards is the only national sake competition held by the National Institute of Sake Research in Hiroshima. This year the competition evaluated 826 entries.

From the total submissions, 405 sake were recognized as "award sake" with 205 entries awarded gold medals. 

Following Fukushima Prefecture's 17 gold medals were Akita and Hyogo Prefectures with 13 gold medals each. Last year Nagano Prefecture drew with Fukushima for 17 medals, however this year they had to settle for “just” 13 golds.

A full list of the winners in English can be found here.

JG: This is easily the most prestigious event in the industry each year, and the only official government tasting of all of a given country’s producers in the world. And 110 years of history is significant! It is very interesting to see who won gold and silver medals each year, and who wins them with regularity. I highly recommend checking out the results for breweries you know, represent, or have enjoyed. Also, for those that can read Japanese, here is a listing of all awards, gold and otherwise.

Another Brewery Turns To Whiskey

Yamanashi- Ide Jōzō is gearing up to release its first batch of whiskey in 2023 in a move which could bolster the brewery's profile and revenue.

Located in the five lakes area at the foot of Mt Fuji, the brewery is best known for its Kai no Kaiun brand. Ide Jōzō initially began 300 years ago as a miso and soy sauce producer before turning to sake brewing some 130 years later. It was another 170 years later in 2020 when the brewery began its first foray into whiskey distillation.

The decision to branch out into whiskey production came about as brewery president Yogorouemon Ide was looking for new challenges for his brewers during the off-season from the end of spring to late autumn. In the past, the brewery would employ seasonal workers from other regions to brew sake over the winter months, but switched to a full-time employee system a number of years back to keep the team local. 

 He briefly considered shochu production, but after some analysis of the global market decided whiskey held more promise.

On top of the initial obstacle of obtaining a whiskey-distilling license, the brewery staff had no whiskey production experience, relying on basic alcohol production techniques and textbook notes. However, Ide claims that given sake is the most difficult alcohol beverage to produce, he was confident they could pull it off.

Ide invested in some distilling equipment and production began in 2020. This year the brewery released a blended whiskey, which promptly sold out and next year will see the release of its first single-malt aged for three years.

Source - Sankei

JG: In truth, while a part of me wishes sake was selling well enough to negate the need for other products to augment revenue - for any sake brewery - it is a bold and creative move for Ide Jōzō  and I hope it works out according to plan. I look forward to trying it once it becomes available, if it does not sell out instantaneously!

井出醸造店 , 甲斐の開運 大吟醸

Keeping Up With Trends

Nagano- A local tech group has collaborated with Ono Shuzōten to create a limited release of sake with redeemable NFT technology protecting the label artwork.

NFT (non fungible token) technology is a form of digital security where images and digital property can be registered to a license only the purchaser possesses. Others may copy or use the data, however the original license will remain (protected by block security) the property of the license holder.

Ono Shuzōten and tech group Torches Co. have released two limited edition junmai daiginjō sake, Hitō (Ascending) and Tōka (Illuminating). Each sake displays specially designed label artwork. The two releases have been labeled with a pair of ukiyoe (woodblock print) images of a dragon and a phoenix on the packaging. These are linked to the serial number of the year of production of Tōka and Hitō. Consumers who purchase the sake can then claim the NFT for the label artwork if they so desire.

It is hoped the idea will lend more value to Japanese sake in a market where value appreciation is commonly associated with products designed for aging such as wine and whiskey. Sake (particularly unpasteurized sake) is commonly consumed early with minimal maturation thus depleting the long term value of the sake. However it is hoped the NFT technology will extend the value of a sake even after it has been consumed, as NFT currency.

Starting at JPY 330,000 for the set of two bottles. Limited to 100 sets.

(#001 is available for JPY 1,230,000)

For more info visit - Hitotouka

Source - PR Times

JG: In an even bolder move than adding whiskey to a lineup, incorporating NFT technology into sake labels is quite bold and innovative. Out of pure marketing interest, I will follow this to see how it develops. It could be the beginning of a new sake industry trend. Or not. Time will tell.

小野酒造店 , 飛騰 , 燈火

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