Aichi Prefecture is the birthplace of samurai heroes. The Three Unifiers, warlords who fought to control Japan and bring peace, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the future shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, were all born in Aichi. (Tokugawa Ieyasu was born at Okazaki Castle).
We met the Shibata family way back in 2013. The head brewer didn’t want to sell to us initially. But when Kenta and I walked back to the car park his wife, Kazuno, came running after us and said (basically) “don’t listen to him, we are fine with selling you sake for Australia”. Which started our relationship with them. (Kazuno is pictured here with her grand daughter by which their yuzushu is named from).
We recommend the Kounotsukasa Ghin Yamahai (seen pictured). It is made with the yamahai method in which lactic acid is not added as it is with the method that superseded it (see Sokujo 速醸). Instead, the lactic bacteria occurs naturally, and as a result takes a few weeks to appear. This allows some wild yeasts and bacteria to enter the moto.
Eventually these unwanted elemets are eliminated when the lactic bacteria kills everything except the desired yeast. But before this process happens, the wild elements are able to impart some of the interesting flavour profiles that are the hallmark of this fantastic style of sake.
Very limited only 4 bottles left
Kounotsukasa Yuzushu 720ml
In the small town of Katsuyama is a small shuzo (brewery) called Tsuji Honten. They make ‘Gozenshu’ sake. The concentrate mainly on the ‘omachi’ rice and the ‘bodaimoto’ method, an ancient brewing method used by the monks 500 years ago.
The president and brewer, Soichero and Maiko, are quite young by sake brewer standards. Because of a family situation they both had to leave university early and take on the running of the business and the brewing (Maiko san, pictured below). She is one of the few, but growing, numbers of female head brewers in Japan. (At SuperSake for some reason we have 3 represented which is unusual).
Katsuyama was voted in the top 100 most picturesque villages in Japan and has a vibrant craft industry with a lady who is one of the best noren makers in Japan. They have a crazy festival where each village faction contructs a cart with a battering ram and in a fit of frenzy they ram each other (pushed by the villagers) to the shouts of “Oisa! Oisa! Oisa!” I’m sure many people get injured each year. But that’s Japan.
We recommend their ‘Festival ‘ sake. Trust us, it was hard to get. They usually don’t sell it outside their village but seeing that we went to one of them they were lenient with us (we still didn’t get all that we wanted). It’s available in 720ml and 1.8L. It is real bodaimoto with a full flavour and slight sour finish. Not sweet at all. Drink it close your eyes and imagine the carts colliding with each other. ☺️
Gozenshu Festival Sake (Matsuri sake) 720ml
Gozenshu Festival Sake (Matsuri sake) 1800ml
We’ve always been sad that most Japanese beer here in Australia is not from Japan. Asahi, Kirin and Saporro don’t use Japanese water and are made in Australia or the UK or Thailand or China. But our Yamaguchi beer not only has Japanese water but it comes from a perennial waterful 100m from the place where it’s made, out in the countryside of Yamaguchi.
The head brewer, Yamamoto san, is a perfectionist and he lives for his beer. We recommend Yamagichi the region and the beer to everyone. (They have an excellent whisky bar in the main city run but a very short and extremely knowledgeable young lady, but that’s another story).
We hope you enjoy this week’s choices. Stay tuned for more.