Sake SET x KOUJIN : Koji, the Global Ambassador of Japanese Food Culture

Written by Chris Hughes

Date: 28/02/16
Venue: Kurand Sake Market Shibuya Branch
Participants: 37
Duration: 3.5 hours
Theme: The Marriage of Sake & Miso / Dashi (stock)

On 28th February 2016, we held a special SET (Sake Exchange Tokyo) event together with the company KOUJIN at our Shibuya Branch.

This time we were very lucky to be joined by not only a sake brewery, but a producer of miso as well, both hailing from the aptly nicknamed “Bordeaux of Japan” (so-called because of the number of terroirs), famous for its wide-variety of local delicacies, I am of course talking about none other than… drum roll please… Niigata Prefecture.

The Theme

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Both sake and miso are made from the same type of koji mould (you might also refer to it as a fungus/microbe/bacilli, but not yeast; it is a different entity all together). Furthermore, the savoury flavours of both the beans used to make miso, and the sake are extremely similar which makes for a delicious combination that brings out the flavours of both. Additionally, by combining with some of the other signature delicacies of Japanese cuisine such as soy sauce, bonito flakes and kombu you can achieve an even more sublime marriage.

A Toast

We kicked off the event with a toast — what better way is there?
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The Lecture

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Sake Basics

● Sake in a nutshell
● Rice & Rice Polishing
● Koji Mould
● Water for Brewing
● How sake is made (brief rundown)
● 4 Flavours of Sake (tasting map)
● Basics of miso
● The raw ingredients of miso
● Types of miso
● Tastes of miso
● Colour of miso
● Regionality of miso
● Miso & the Japanese diet
● Miso health benefits & nutritional value

Introducing KOUJIN

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Guest Speaker Mrs. Kawabata
Company: KOUJIN

Koujin was set up in January 2016 to protect the time-honoured traditional food culture of Japan for future generations, with a focus on the national micro-organism of Japan Koji. We hope to provide lots of different people, people from all over the world, with opportunities to experience the value of the real cuisine of Japan, the wishes of the craftsmen and artisans who for over thousands of years have continued to produce, to hand down and protect the traditional foods of Japan made with koji, the backbone of Japanese food culture.

Introducing Takarayama Brewery

 

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Brewer Mr.Wakabayashi (on the left)

Takarayama Brewery is a small brewery that began life in 1885 as regional sake to Iwamuro Onsen,a well-known 300 year old inner parlour in Niigata. In the frozen lands of Echigo, with “harmony among people” as their motto, a team of three including the master cherish every single drop of the brewing process. In a little plot at the back of the brewery the staff grow the variety of sake rice that was developed in Niigata: Echigo Tanrei. From this year, master brewer Watanabe Keita who completed his training in a brewery outside the prefecture joins the team and takes over the reins from 78 year old master Mr. Aoyagi. A new wind is blowing at this brewery.

Introducing Minemura Jozo

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I had to make notes to make sure I provided an accurate detailed interpretation for our non-Japanese speaking participants. I might be an expert on sake, but not on miso, well, having said that, I feel a bit like one after this event.

Guest Speaker: Mr.Onozuka
Company:Minemura Jozo

Established in 1905, in Niigata City, they have been making Echigo Miso ever since the company’s founding,but are also well known for their brand of pickles. The brewery runs regular tours where you can buy and even eat the miso.. Using the experience and skills that they have fostered over generations they also produce all kinds of stock and other fermented food flavourings. This is a company that is constantly striving to improve the flavour of their products, giving it a modern twist while protecting the tradition of Japan that is Japanese food culture.

The Tasting

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Participants were taken through a guided tasting of 4 completely different sakes. Minemura Jozo prepared a selection of specially hand-crafted miso, stock and pickles to pair with each sake. Guidance about which sake paired with which miso was of course provided beforehand.

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No workshop featuring miso would be worth its salt without a proper representation of all the different regional misos from all over Japan. Luckily, we had that covered also.

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There was also some scrumptious dashi (stock) which was overflowing with umami (savoury goodness).

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International Exchange Through Sake

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Participants were then free to compare as many of the 100 different sakes on offer as they could muster and make friends in the process.

With so many new faces this month’s event provided everyone with the perfect opportunity to make friends. Japanese speakers could meet English speakers and vica versa.

Chazuke to Finish

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What better way to complete an event like this than with a nice bowl of Chazuke. It is also a great way to taste all the ingredients introduced in this event.

Conclusion

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If this event report has tickled your taste buds, there are plenty more SETS were this came from.

Click here for more information

I look forward to seeing you all there!!

 

KURAND Staff Recommended Course: Food Pairing Course – Experience Food & Sake Marriages Made in Heaven!

Greetings!

And welcome to KURAND SAKE MARKET, the place to learn about hundreds of different craft sakes.

This time we introduce the finger-lickin’ good ‘food pairing’ course.

What kind of sake is designed to be paired with food?

Just as fish goes with white wine, and red wine goes with meat, sake is just as compatible as an alcoholic beverage to enjoy with or during a meal. Dry sakes in particular with their strong savoury umami (large amount of glutamate type amino acid) qualities tend to work quite well. It does of course depend on what you are trying to pair, so it is certainly not the be all and end all, but a weighty dry sake would probably make a good candidate for most fayre.

Homare Kokko Tokubetsu Junmai

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When the Toji (master brewer) Mr Hoshino brews, he tries to imagine the face of the person as they savour his sake. A relaxed gentle umami makes his sake fit in nicely at the table. He makes Junmai sake with a good honest flavour that reflects the heart of the brewer.

Try this sake with something containing oodles of miso.
Examples: Miso hot pot, miso cutlet, miso chicken, miso salmon, an onigiri containing miso.
Grilled cheese like mozzarella is sure to work also. Might even pair with something like a lightly spiced paneer curry. Hell why not even throw in a plate of cheese and olives while you are at it!

Asahi Kurabu

 

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Takeno Brewery continues to create new fans around the world through their brewing that clearly has the future of sake in plain sight. Opt for cuisine made from umami rich ingredients because these will melt together with the sweetness of this sake creating a marriage made in heaven.

When it comes to pairing there is so much scope. Why not try this sake with a nice juicy beef bun from the convenience store or with plate of cured mackerel (shimesaba).

Chikuha Noto Junmai

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In the Mizuho region of Noto Town, Noto toji and farmer join forces in a production that starts in the fields with the growing of the sake rice “Noto Yamada Nishiki” which is then fermented in water sourced from Noto. A sake from Noto that, via its full untamed flavour profile, imparts a little bit of the region as well.

KURAND Staff Recommended Course: Handsome Brewers Course – A Must for All the Ladies Out There!

Greetings,

And welcome to KURAND SAKE MARKET, the place to learn about hundreds of different craft sakes.

This time we introduce to you the ‘handsome brewers’ course. In other words, for all the ladies out there, we are about to pull back the curtain on the best looking brewers in our lineup.

Kanbai Junmai Ginjo Sake Musashi

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A colourful craft sake made from a combination of underground water sourced from the Tonegawa river in Saitama, the Saitama yeast: Saitama C and Sake Musashi special brewing rice, all sourced from Saitama Prefecture. Not to mention the traditional skills, and the passion of a Toji (brewer master) in the pride of his youth. This is Kanbai Brewery’s most confident offering.

Brewery Introduction: Kanbai Brewery

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Established in 1821, Kanbai Brewery is located almost dead centre of the Kanto plains in Kuki which is a good location for both water and rice. The brand name Kanbai comes from the line in a famous Chinese poem: “the bloom of winter just before spring”. The owner of the brewer has now taken over the role of master brewer as well and focuses all his attention on a small production that it is as attentive as possible and leaves nothing to chance. With the ethos “to provide delicious and fun moments” he strives for sake brewing with personality that attacks the task head on with sincerity.

Asahi No De No Ikioi Masamune (LIT: the momentum of the rising morning sun) Mochi Gome (sticky rice) 4 Stage Fermentation Junmai Genshu Binkan Hiire (pasteurised in bottle)

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Maruse Brewery continues to brew with a focus on the mochigome (sticky rice) fermentation style. A fruity aroma, and syrupy, rich, yet gentle sweetness is one of the traits of this sake. A mild Junmai born of traditional skills.

Brewery Introduction: Maruse Brewery

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Maruse Brewery was established in 1870 and makes sake as a family unit using the time-honoured 4 stage brewing method. The method adds steamed rice to the conventional 3 stage fermentation method. Their version is unique because they use mochigome (sticky rice) as opposed to the normal Uruchimai type sake rice. At present, there are few breweries making sake this way. The pillow like softness and mellow flavour of the mochigome is something that is unique to this brewery. Hidden amongst the nature of Shinshu their speciality well-rounded 4 stage sake possesses a hidden power that is guaranteed to soothe the soul of the drinker.

Ando Suigun Tokubetsu Junmai

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As you would expect of a brewery brewing sake that reaps the best of the region, their main brand is named after none other than the conqueror of the North: Ando Suigun (The Navy of Ando). A billowing, unassuming flavour makes for a unique Tokubetsu Junmai.

Brewery Introduction: Ozaki Brewery

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Ozaki Brewery is located on the Japan Sea side of Japan in Ajigasawa. Also home to the World Heritage site Shiraka Misanchi:the 12 blue lakes with their mysterious blue that charm all who look at them. They make sake that reaps those benefits while coexisting with nature. The signature brands are the ruler of the Japan Sea: the Ando Navy and Morishige Hishaya’s famous painting Kami no za (god’s seat): the painting is so-called because it imagines the gods sitting and drinking sake. With a wholehearted attitude, and a desire to “make delicious sake” they continue to brew honest sake in the northernmost part of Japan’s coast.

Plenty more themed courses to come soon!

Where Did All the Famous Brands Go?

Here at KURAND, we showcase sake brands that have yet to make it into the spotlight, that our staff have roamed the country to find, and avoid the sorts of brands that you see in specialist sake shops.

It is probably about time we explained why.

A Downward Trend in the Number of Sake Breweries.

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As the above graph published by the tax office shows, the volume of sake shipped fell from 1,766,000Kl in 1973 to 603,000Kl in 2011. Even at present, this downward trend shows no signs of letting up.

Whereas sake used to be an integral part of the daily lives of Japanese people, it is now an industry in decline. A lot of small to medium sized breweries are in an intense fight for survival: year by year breweries with hundreds of years of history simply disappear.

And then, as a result of the more liberalised pricing guidelines, you have the liquor stores who have folded, victims of price wars between the heavy weight sake suppliers. This results in a shortage of places to buy sake, cutting the brewery’s routes to the end consumer.

What we have is a situation where smaller breweries are unable to reach the end consumer with their products, regardless of whether those products are attractive or not.

A Large Majority of Liquor Stores Fill Their Shelves with Popular Brands.

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We are in an era of fierce competition where the majority of specialist sake shops arm themselves with the coolest brands. That is because brands that regularly feature in magazines and on TV sell, even without any effort— simple as.

A liquor store is at the end of the day a business. And popular brands make good business. But the problem is that these stores all mirror each other with their selection.

Quality is of course their main principle. However, sake is all about taste. We believe that is not a case of “popular= delicious” but more a case of tastes vary by the individual.

With the industry in decline, as long as the remaining sake businesses insist on scrapping over the most famous brands in the industry, all the other brands will never get a look in. In other words only a select bunch of brands will ever be available in the marketplace.

Carrying those kinds of famous brands is not our job. Our job is to focus on those brands that we are available to introduce because we are KURAND.

To digress a little, the sake industry is really quite small. So much so that even the popular brands are relatively unknown amongst the average consumer. To explain further would require an explanation of the current state of the sake industry which we will save for another article. (we are not trying to criticise the popular brands. On the contrary, we have nothing but admiration and respect for them)

Bringing Sake to Life Through a KURAND to Brewery Partnership

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We view sake production as an artisan craft. The skills used to make it are something to boast to the world. It is those skills that produce individuality and flavour and build a fanbase. And that is why, just as production is the brewer’s responsibility, promoting it and creating opportunities to drink it is the liquor store’s responsibility, and our mission.

Even in an industry referred to as ailing, there is no lack of charismatic sake craftsmen and women. After visiting pretty much every corner of the country on a daily basis, we feel that there are still plenty of breweries out there just waiting to be discovered.

And we believe that doing what other liquor stores cannot: spreading the charm of sake, is our role: creating opportunities to actually taste sake that has yet to have a public presence is something that only we can do.

We hope to continue to promote the charms of sake to everyone together with our partner breweries and bring the sake industry to life.

Final Word

In this article we told you a bit about the background of KURAND SAKE MARKET and the sorts of breweries that make up our lineup. We don’t want people to limit the way they experience sake just because certain famous brands are absent. We believe that sake is there purely to be savoured and enjoyed.

Nothing would please us more than for you to make an amazing sake discovery at KURAND.

The Long Awaited Grand Opening of Our Sister Operation “SHUGAR MARKET”, We Took a Sneak Peak Inside

On 18th February, the sister operation of KURAND SAKE MARKET, SHUGAR MARKET had its grand opening.

We have put together this little photo tour of the reception party to give you a little idea of the hype surrounding the grand opening.

Incidentally, we have not misspelled sugar; this is a nifty amalgamation of sugar and the kanji for alcohol which is pronounced Shu.

First Off, Let’s Take a Look at the Bar Interior

The entrance is marked out by the SHUGAR MARKET logo.

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This is the reception desk. You can almost feel the vibes.

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The counter space is where the glasses are cleaned and the sake warmed. Why not try the beverages at different temperatures.

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Guests drink at small round tables.

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The most important part of the operation is without a doubt the fridges. Seeing the rows of liqueurs inside gets us buzzing! Even with just the plum wines, there is a whole range of different types to explore. Why not come and try them one by one!

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Although there probably aren’t too many people paying attention to the ceiling, it didn’t get left out of the decorations. With fruit stretching out across the beams, the place is like an indoor orchard.

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Enjoy fruity alcoholic beverages while relaxing at SHUGAR MARKET.

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Staff begin the preparations for the reception party!

The reception party was the first time that we unveiled the enormous parfait, provided to us as an opening gift as part of our collaboration with Saga Prefecture.

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This enormous parfait was provided by the popular parfait establishment in Saga Prefecture Coffee Ufufu. They came all the way from Saga just to make it for us.

With no time to lose, the staff from Ufufu began decorating with lots of fruits.

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The face on top is that of SHUGAR CHAN, the female mascot character and logo!

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This is more like a huge bouquet of flowers than a parfait now !! Thinking it would be a shame to demolish it, most people just couldn’t bring themselves to eat it.

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Finally, The Reception Begins!

At 5pm, SHUGAR MARKET opened for business!
There was a welcome drink in the form of APOLLON blood orange plum wine which is produced by Amabuki Brewery in Saga Prefecture.

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The staff of SHUGAR opened with an introduction.

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Followed by an introduction from representatives of Saga Prefecture, with whom we collaborated for the opening.

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Coffee Ufufu sneaked in this little smile at the completion of their giant parfait. Thank you so much for your hard work!

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Afterwards, guests tucked in. The Maruboro and cream was a real hit!

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They were able to enjoy over 100 different types of liquor at their leisure, with no time limits.

Following the style in operation at our other branches, guests were free to enjoy all the beverages on offer how ever they liked together with the tasty morsels provided by Saga Prefecture.

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The product in the photo is the SHUGAR original yoghurt liqueur, served straight to start with.

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It also works with soda.

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You can also mix alcoholic beverages. Mix yoghurt and coffee liqueur for a “coffee liqueur”-like experience.

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Here at SHUGAR MARKET we have prepared vanilla ice for you. The fruit liqueurs make for an excellent sauce, for a more adult taste experience.

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Fruit liqueurs tend to leave a little bit of fruit flesh behind in the glass. But never fear, you can clean out the glass with water using the special glass washer provided.

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On this visit, we tried all kinds of fruit-based alcohol and plum wines.
 
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The Party is in Full Swing

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The reception comes to a close without a hitch. Some of the participants could clearly hold their drink; glugging away from open to close. And so, another thoroughly enjoyable event comes to a close. At present, the bar is fully booked, but we do operate a same-day booking system, so if you can’t wait to join in the action, you are welcome to call us anytime after 4pm on the day.

For bookings and the telephone number for SHUGAR MARKET please visit this link.

* We may already be fully booked at the time of calling. We appreciate your understanding in this matter in advance. On behalf of all the staff at SHUGAR MARKET, we look forward to welcoming you soon!

Doburoku – The Last Vestige of Home Brewing

Greetings everyone,

Welcome to the magazine that brings you little nuggets of information about sake. Today we delve into the muddy depths of the history of Japan’s ancient home-brew sake, Doburoku. Doburoku is a bit like a so-called cloudy sake, but with far more historical significance; it represents the last vestige of the liberalisation of sake brewing itself.

  • What kind of sake is Doburoku?
  • The Doburoku Trials
  • The Special Doburoku Wards

What on Earth is Doburoku?

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Regarded as the simplest form of alcohol to be made from rice, Doburoku is sake that did not undergo filtering or pressing after fermentation. It is different from your average cloudy sake because cloudy sake normally has the sake lees part filtered out.

In the case of Doburoku, it is fairly easy to produce; in the past it was brewed everywhere from the family household to the farmer’s house. However, the introduction of liquor taxation laws in the Meiji Period saw home-brewing outlawed. It is thought that these laws were intended as a safeguard to make future tax increases more tolerable for a brewing industry that was struggling to shoulder the burden of all the large tax increases implemented during the first Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars.

Fast forward to the present, the home-brewing of Doburoku is in most cases still illegal.

The Doburoku Trials

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In 1984, Maeda Toshihiko who had a history of campaigning to liberalise home-brewing and, in 1981, had announced a new literary work entitled: ‘Let’s make Doburoku’ was taken to court on suspicion of breaking the liquor tax laws.

The trial went all the way to the supreme court where, without even taking into account his reasons for production, due to the fact that home-brewing was viewed as a potential revenue earner, the administration was given discretion, who, on December 14th,1989, forced through a guilty verdict.

Although he didn’t quite achieve the liberalisation of brewing Doburoku, his argument that: “the production of Doburoku which is also a part of food culture is a right to pursue happiness, a basic right protected by the constitution” and his assertion that liquor tax laws only favoured the bigger breweries with the facilities to brew in quantity — was without a doubt instrumental in liberalising one aspect of sake brewing: In 1994, a declaration was made to scrap the tax laws that were branded as behind the times and bad for business. As a result, we are now in an age of liberal brewing.

The Special Wards Who Can Brew Doburoku

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Now although it might be a crime elsewhere in Japan, some special wards are legally permitted to brew Doburoku.
Both the production and sale of Doburoku is permitted for consumption inside the ward only.
The purpose of this proviso is regional-level promotion. Sadly we are still a long way off the liberalisation of home brewing.

Well, that about wraps up this little history lesson on Doburoku.
If we are to spread sake throughout the world, the question of liberalising home-brewing will no-doubt come up as a topic again in the future. What do you think? Should the production of Doburoku in the family household be legalised? Why not have this debate over a sake or two at KURAND SAKE MARKET.

From time to time, we prepare the odd Doburoku or two for you to try here at KURAND SAKE MARKET. The best time to look out for them is the summer; they are often offered as a seasonal option then.

Guilty Pleasure: Supermarket-Bought Chocolate x Sake

Greetings everyone.

Welcome to the magazine that brings you little nuggets of information about sake.

We thought it was about time we dispensed with another little sake taboo. This time it is the pairing of sake with chocolate. As anyone who knows anything about sake will tell you, the combination of sake with sweet foods or confectionery is not something you can just pull off on a whim, but with the right knowledge beforehand it is not impossible, as we hope to prove in this article.

4 Chocolate-Friendly Types of Sake

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When it comes to alcoholic beverages that pair well with chocolate most people would probably think of wine or brandy, mainly of the cask-matured flavours, acidity and thickness that these tend to possess. But there are of course sakes out there with similar qualities.

1. Aged Koshu with a whisky-esque aroma and sweetness.

Vintage sake does exist; there are even amber coloured sakes that scream whisky at you. These all pairs very well with the rich sweetness of most chocolates.

2. Sake with Acidity

The acidity needs to be like that of wine. The best type tends to be that where the acidity opens up mid-palate because this accentuates the sweetness of the chocolate.

3. Sake with a Whisky-esque Thickness

Depending on the production process not all sake falls into the clean-light category. A lot of sakes have a savoury-like nuttiness that spreads out across the palate and is followed by a long finish. Such sakes are often accompanied by a thickness that can wrap itself around the chocolate.

4. Sake with a full-bodied sweetness and umami

There is a type of coarsely strained sake called Nigorisake (cloudy sake). It is a cloudy, milky white sake full of all the savoury flavours of the rice. The rich sweet flavour that comes from the rice pairs really well with the rich sweetness of most chocolate types.

The Supermarket-bought Chocolate Challenge

We tried to combine the sakes at KURAND SAKE MARKET with some Japanese supermarket-bought brands of chocolate. Here are the results.

Alfort Chocolate x Houmei Junmai

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The sweetness and body of the ricey part of Houmei is a really good match with the saltiness of the biscuit. Alfort chocolate itself has quite a simple profile that leaves behind an addictive faint sweetness on the finish.

KANBAI KOHAKU x DARS

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Kohaku comes with notes of cask-ageing and a gentle sweetness that you might associate with whisky. The profound body and almost eternal sweet chocolatey finish of Dars chocolate is a great match for the mild sweetness and mature astringency of this sake. A deep sweetness opens out in the mouth and you lose yourself with the feeling that it will never end.

Gloopy Cloudy Sake x Snickers

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The caramel harmonises with the viscosity of cloudy sake. In addition, the saltiness of the nuts is irresistible. At the end, as you might expect, you are left to ponder a chocolatey sweetness, a sweetness that isn’t at all cloying — with every bite of the caramel you are treated to a chorus of nuts, chocolate and cloudy sake.

Rokkon Kohaku x Meiji Chocolate

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Well that brings us to our final entry — the chocolate that boasted the most milky-sweet notes in the mouth, with the mellowest melt-in-the-mouth feel. Rokkon Kohaku draws a similar vector with its maturity created by a similarly mellow sweetness. With not even a hint of resistance this one made for the best marriage out of the four we tried. This is the kind of combination you will want to come back to, again and again and again. Now that’s what I call temptation.

With a whole host of places to buy chocolate, only a stone’s throw away from each of our branches, why not give in to the temptation and experience this guilty pleasure at KURAND SAKE MARKET.

A Class or Two Above the Rest

Greetings!

Have you ever heard of the terms Tokusen, Josen and Kasen?

The terms can sometimes be found on carton sake. You may have perhaps puzzled over their meaning. No doubt there will be far fewer people that can explain the meaning of these 3 terms than say the difference between Junmai and Ginjo etc.

Fear not, today’s article will try to shed a little light on them for you.

Kyubetsu Seido

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It is first necessary to explain about the sake classification system Kyubetsu Seido.

Kyubetsu Seido Classification System – What is it?

The Kyubetsu Seido which basically translates to classification system was a system set up to levy higher taxes on higher classes of sake. It was implemented in 1943 and continued right the way up to 1992. Under this system, the alcoholic beverages commission which was made up of industry experts would assign each sake that was submitted one of three classes based on its alcohol content and quality : Tokkyu (special class), Ikkyu(1st class), Nikkyu (2nd class). Tokusen, Josen and Kasen are the descendants of this system.

The Demise of the Classification System

Over time, because classification / tax systems like this based on alcohol content fail to accurately reflect the difference between good and bad quality sake, more and more people began to question it. And so, gradually, more and more makers started to bypass the commission’s inspection and just distribute high-class sakes like Daiginjos etc as 2nd class by default, thus rendering the system obsolete. And then, in 1992, the taxes on sake were finally consolidated into something that equated higher than 2nd class but slightly lower than 1st.

The Start of Tokusen, Josen and Kasen

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A classification system intended to determine different tax tariffs was abolished, but in its wake it left many a bewildered consumer. Each brewery started to attach the equivalent substitute terms Tokusen, Josen and Kasen to their sake. Nowadays of course, consumers are able to make a more informed choice based on the special designation, raw ingredients used, production area etc etc.

The Difference Between Tokusen, Josen and Kasen

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Unlike the nationally established special designations Junmai and Honjozo etc, they are not set in stone. Each brewery creates their own unique ranking based on factors like the polishing ratio and variety of rice used so the definition of Tokusen is far from clear cut. In other words, the cynical amongst us might go as far as to point out that we have simply swapped one inadequate system for another. Probably best off sticking to the tried and tested special designation system after all.

Conclusion

Well that wraps up another article on sake. Although, as mentioned above, we have introduced an old system to you today, some breweries still continue to display these terms as part of the product name, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to know what the terms mean, if only to commit to memory and them give them the wide berth they deserve.

Flat Rate KURAND SAKE MARKET (60 Minute Cashback Campaign Now in Operation at all Branches)

Greetings!

You might be a little surprised to hear that on this occasion it is not the ‘no time limits’ format that we wish to extoll but a brand new ‘60 minutes’ flat-rate system, available for a limited time only. This article will explain more about the system and how to make use of it.

What is 60 Minutes Flat Rate ?

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If your stay is less than 60 minutes you will be entitled to a 1000 JPY cashback. This new system stems from our desire to allow more and more people to enjoy sake casually.

Why implement this system at KURAND SAKE MARKET?
Although the above is part of the reason, the system is in large part a result of feedback received from our customers.
 

“I like sake, but I don’t like to drink it for such a long period”
“It is impossible to get through all 100 types in one day, so I would prefer to discover them little by little”

The above feedback is just a small snapshot. Nevertheless, in an attempt to accommodate those wishes, we have created a space where you can compare lots of different sakes casually.
 
And that is basically how we arrived at this new system.
 

The 60 Minutes System is Recommended for These Types of People

I just want to taste sake
I like sake, but I don’t like to drink it for too long.
I can’t get through all 100 in one day, so I would prefer to discover them little by little
I just want to try and odd one or two when I am free 

The 60 minute system is very simple. Simply follow the below 4 steps. 

1. Pay the full price of 3240 JPY as you would normally.

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2. We will give you a receipt.

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3. If you wish to leave early and take advantage of this offer. Present the receipt within 1 hour of arrival. (the time you entered is printed on the receipt)

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4. We will present you with 1000 JPY back in cash.

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* Failure to show the receipt to our staff within the allotted 1 hour time frame will render the offer ineffective so please be careful.

Everyone one of us leads such busy lives, but why not take time out every once and a while to come and enjoy a sake or two here at KURAND and take advantage of our ‘60 minute flat-rate system’.

All Hail! The King of the Sake Rice! The Pinnacle of Brewing Rice: Yamada Nishiki

Greetings,

Welcome to the blog that brings you little nuggets of information about sake. This time we introduce the most representative type of rice used to make sake— Yamada Nishiki.

The King of Sake Rice Yamada Nishiki

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The best types of rice for making sake are referred to as Shuzokotekimai (LIT: special rice for brewing. Only rice that has passed a special inspection can be categorised as Shuzokotekimai.
Yamada Nishiki is a variety of Shuzokotekimai that because of its outstanding features has earned the title of ‘king of the sake rice, the zenith with a high price to match. It was born in 1923, at the agricultural research station in Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture, from an artificial cross-breeding of Yamada-Ho and Tankanwataribune. Even today, 80% of the total Yamada Nishiki yield is grown in Hyogo Prefecture.

Traits of Yamada Nishiki

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Some of the traits that make it the king of sake rice include a large size grain with a good sized white heart (a nucleus filled with starch), contains very few proteins that can contribute unwanted off flavours to the end product, good water absorbency and digestibility. These are also the traits that create a high quality koji called Tsukihaze, a type of koji where the hypha of the koji mould has penetrated right to the centre of the rice grain. However, the king does not come without its drawbacks. Namely: one of the reasons why Yamada Nishiki is always in such short supply is because it is so notoriously difficult to grow. For starters, the below conditions have to be met.

  • A place with morning to evening extremes of hot and cold.
  • A soil rich in nutrients.
  • The seeds must be laid at intervals to allow for sufficient sunlight and breathing space.
  • Sufficiently skilled farmers with the right technology to hand.

Condition no.1 makes it difficult to grow good quality Yamada Nishiki in the more northern reaches such as Niigata and Yamagata; it is generally not done.

Because Yamada Nishiki is a type of rice that ripens very late its harvest often clashes with the typhoon season which can spell disaster; its top heavy nature makes it vulnerable in the face of such extreme weather which is why it is important to develop a sturdy stem. So, whether or not Yamada Nishiki will be successfully harvested or not is a yearly lottery. This is ultimately what makes it such an expensive, sought after type of sake rice. So much so that in recent years it has been in short supply which has prompted some breweries to start securing their own supply of Yamada Nishiki by converting local none-sake-rice growing farmers. Some brewers have even started to grow their own private supply of Yamada Nishiki inside the brewery grounds.

Extra Note: The main Yamada Nishiki growing area is called Banshu and is located in Hyogo Prefecture. The rice fields that produce the best Yamada Nishiki are classified as A-grade.

Traits of Sake Made with Yamada Nishiki

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Sake made with Yamada Nishiki tends to have both a good flavour and aroma, as well as a fuller-bodied more fine-grained texture. It is the rice of choice to make the cleaner more aromatic styles, Daiginjo in particular. It is also the rice of choice to make competition entry sake. In fact the majority of gold winning entrants at the ‘National New Sake Tasting Competition’ will have been made with it.

So there you have it! That pretty much about wraps up this little sermon on the king of sake rice.

Here at KURAND SAKE MARKET, we are fortunate to be able to showcase a large variety of sakes made with Yamada Nishiki.

37. Noto Junmai Ishikawa Prefecture Kazuma Brewery (see this article to learn more about their farmer brewer partnership)
35. Kihotsuru Tokubetsu Junmai Saga Prefecture Motoyama Brewery
19. Miyoshikiku YN 60% Jikagumi Tokushima Prefecture (made with Awanami grown Yamada Nishiki rice polished to 60% in the straight from press to bottle style)
60. Fukunishiki Junmai Ginjo Hyogo Prefecture (Banshu)