Katsuyama - our most expensive nihonshu

The below is written from a good friend of SuperSake living in Hachioji (near Tokyo) David Cheek, a self professed sake otaku (fanatic). We thought we were bad but he leaves us in the dust. His thoughts on nihonshu are insightful, radical, sometimes controversial but always accurate. We are very grateful for his help in recommending great and exciting shuzos to visit.

 Domo arigato David san.


“Katsuyama Shuzo stands at the foothills of Mt. Izumigatake near Sendai city , Miyagi prefecture. It was established in 1688, so they have been brewing sake for just under 330 years. The president of the brewery, Mr. Jihei Isawa, is also a certified wine sommelier. This is somewhat rare that a sake brewer is also a wine expert. The reason is that he had a restaurant in Paris from 1994 to 2004 and another in Florence, Italy from 2001 to 2008. Katsuyama also has a cooking school. It is the largest in the Tohoku area and also a sister school with a Burgundy wine school.

Brewing only Junmai style sake, (no brewers alcohol added) their brewery is a leader in using gen-mai or eating rice. Ordinarily, table rice is reserved for lower grade sake. It is a tribute to the mastery and skill of the brewmaster (toji) that the result is character and refinement. They use meticulous brewing methods and only produce one tank per week producing the highest class of sake. They are one of the few breweries to use a centrifuge, which separates the mash using a very modern and expensive machine instead of the more common pressing methods. This makes for amazingly complex multi-layered sake.

Katsuyama has won top spot in the Junmai Ginjo category in the Sake Competition 2016 for two years in a row. It is the world’s largest sake competition in terms of number of entries.”


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