Sake is deeply connected to Japanese culture and many of Japan’s traditions and customs. From ancient times Sake has been offered to the Gods calling it the “Drink of the Gods”. It has deep ties to both religion, ceremony, traditions and everyday social interaction.
On the surface, Sake may seem simple, restrained or perhaps even plain, but digging a little deeper you will discover a vast and colorful world of styles and tastes.
Sake is made from simple ingredientes: rice, water, yeast and Koji (a type of mold). Sake is produced by brewing, in the same similar way as beer, but with a few unique processes that make it so unique.
Sake making requires scrupulous care, long time, laborious work, profound knowledge and the very high skills of Sake brewers. This reflects one of the most characteristic aspects of the Japanese hard working culture.
Aichi’s Sake Is Deeply Rooted In Japanese History.
The origin of Sake in Japan is not clear, but it is said that Sake brewing began not much differently from the time when rice culture began.
Nara is believed to be the birthplace of Japanese Sake. Originally known as Yamato, Nara was Japan’s first capital and, as a capital, Nara hosted numerous large temples where Sake was made back in those days.
In Aichi, Sake brewing has a long history. The earliest reference to Sake is recorded in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, two of Japan’s oldest history books. There is an episode where Yamato Takeru (legendary prince of the Yamato dynasty and the 12th Emperor of Japan) presented a big Sake cup in Atsuta Jingu Shrine (early 8th century).
During the Yamato period (250–710) Aichi Prefecture had a good transportation infrastructure that made it connected to Nara and Kyoto. This fact favored the exchanges between eachcity and made quicker the introduction of Sake brewing techniques in Aichi.
During the Warring States period (475–221 BCE), there were many liquor stores under Kiyosu Castle, where the first “Great Unifier” of Japan, Oda Nobunaga was based.
During the Edo period (1603 – 1868) the brewing industry, under Nagoya Castle, was rapidly developing. Sake brewing center wherelocated in the Chita Peninsula and Nishi Mikawa districts. Nowadays many of these Sake breweries still remain.
Every Sake Region Has Its Own Unique Characteristics.
The taste of the Sake will change depending on the “Toji” or master brewer, who inherits the traditional techniques of each region. There are differences in the taste of each brand, and knowing the characteristics of each region makes it even more fun to choose Sake.
Aichi prefecture is blessed with a climate suitable for Sake brewing, so that’s why a wide variety of Sake is elaborated here.
The water used for the Sake elaboration comes from three rivers: the Kiso River, Nagara River, and Ibi River. This natural rich source contains a good balance of minerals favoring growth and cultivation of high-quality Sake rice.
Aichi’s Sake is characterized by using the most advanced fermentation and brewing techniques in Japan. The reason resides in its long tradition production of soy sauce, miso, and vinegar. The same techniques used for the fermentation of these products were also used in Sake brewing.
10 Best Sake In Aichi You Need To Know!
There are many Sake brands in Aichi that use only local rice and water. Producing as a result, high-class Sake such as Ginjo Sake and Junmai.
The Sake produced in Aichi has a high alcohol content and the Sake tastes so strong that it is known as “Demon Koroshi” or the Evil Killer.
But don’t be scared of that, not all the Sakes in this region are so strong and there are many that are very good and easy to drink and suitable for beginners.
We have prepared a list with our top 10 best Aichi’s Sake and their respective breweries. Enjoy it and Kanpai!
If you want to find out what kind of Sake flavor profile suits you best, you can take this fun Sake quiz.
1. Houraisen Junmai Daiginjo
Horaisen, established in 1864, is a brewery located in Shitara-cho (Toyota) well-known for producing high quality Junmai Daiginjo Sake. They are producing not only Sake but other Japanese alcohol drinks like Shochu, also vodka and liqueurs. “Gin,” “Kuu,” and “Bi” are the three labels.
– Houraisen Junmai Daiginjo Gin: Aged for around 3 years has an intense rice flavor.
– Houraisen Junmai Daiginjo Kuu: Mellow fruity scent, with a sweetness and light rice flavor.
– Houraisen Junmai Daiginjo Bi: It has a beautiful sweet and mild flavor. Great Sake perfect for beginners.
2. Kunpeki Junmai Ginjo Genshu Blue Label
Kunpeki Brewery, established in 1915, produces an excellent Sake by using the most high-quality rice Sake.
Kunpeki Junmai Ginjo Genshu offers a fruity aroma and mellow taste. It has a well-balanced taste between sweetness and alcohol.
3. Oku Yumesansui Junmai Ginjo
Sonnoh Brewery, located in Nishio, a famous city in Aichi for the Matcha green tea production, elaborates a very rare and limited Sake that has received many awards.
Oku Yumesansui Junmai Ginjo is characterized by a fascinating taste that combines gorgeousness and richness.
4. Hakurou Junmai Ginjo
Sawada Brewery, located in Tokoname, has been using the traditional brewing methods since more than 100 years ago for producing its award-winning Sake called Hakuro. Hakuro is sweet, heavy flavour with a “non-crispy” aftertaste.
Hakurou Junmai Ginjo (白老純米吟醸)
Sake Brewery: Sawada Brewery
Website (Japanese only)
5. Kintora Daiginjo Nagoya Castle Hommaru Palace
Kintora Brewery, located in Nagoya, produces its award-winning Daiginjo Nagoya Castle Hommaru Palace. It has a beautiful floral taste and a glossy smooth texture.
A part of the sales of this product has been donated to the Honmaru Goten Reserve Fund for the Nagoya Castle Honmaru Palace, destroyed during the World War in May 1945.
Kintora Daiginjo Nagoya Castle Hommaru Palace (大吟醸 名古屋城本丸御殿)
Sake Brewery: Kintora Co., Ltd.
Website (Japanese only)
6. Gahoujin Junmai Daiginjo
Nakano Sake Brewery Co., Ltd., located in Handa, is using “Yamada Nishiki”, a high-quality Sake-rice, with a rice-polishing method of 30%.
Gahoujin Junmai Daiginjo enhances the taste of rice itself with a hint of fruitiness.
7. Yotte gozaru Ginjo
Kaminoi Sake Brewing, established in 1856, is located in Nagoya, in one of the oldest Sake breweries remaining in Aichi. Kamenoi Sake Brewing, on its five generations of brewers, is producing around 25 types of Sake.
Yotte gozaru Ginjo is a dry Sake with a little sweetness.
8. Nito Omachi 55 Junmai Ginjo
Maruishi Brewery, established in 1690, is located in Okazaki, surrounded by mountains, rivers and history. Maruishi Brewery has been producing Sake for over 330 years.
This Junmai Ginjo Sake has a polished rice ratio of 55%. It has a sweetness of tropical fruits with pleasant acidity that appears alternately. It is a good balance of full body that can be enjoyed alone or during meals.
9. Azumaryu Junmaiginjo Ryunomai
Toshun Brewery, established in 1865, is located in Nagoya. Toshun Brewery produces delicious hand-made Sake in the traditional way.
Its Sake is a rich, crisp and lively Sake using only 50% polished Sake rice.
Azumaryu Junmaiginjo Ryunomai won the gold medal at the “Wine Glass Delicious Sake Award 2020”. It has a very good balance of deliciousness and sweetness, and it is the best one in the hot summer to autumn.
10. Kikutaka Junmai Kanazawa Yeast
Fujishi Brewery, established in 1872, is located in Inazawa. The brewery started producing Mirin or sweet wine for cooking. Fujishi Brewery still produces Mirin and also other alcohols such as Shochu and port wine.
Kikutaka Junmai is a raw Sake type using Kanazawa yeast, that contains a lactic acid bacteria and lactic acid fermentation to raise the Sake mother during the brewing process.
This Sake has a refreshing taste with a light touch of acidity that makes it easy to drink.
Kikutaka Junmai Kanazawa Yeast (菊鷹 純米 金沢酵母)
Sake Brewery: Fujishi Brewery
Website (Japanese only)
Get a glimpse into the world of Sake with our very new “Nagoya Sake Tasting Night Tour”. By joining this tour you will learn a lot more about Japan’s most famous drink while sampling a wide variety of different types of Sake in combination with delicious Izakaya foods. Tour details and booking here↓
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