The Mainchi news site reports on a new sake launched in Nara Prefecture made from table rice.
Running with a suggestion from Kōryō city, the Chōryō brewery based at its southern edge turned Hinohikari table rice grown to order in the area into a sake called Kōryō-gura. The plan for its first year is to sell the equivalent of 1,000 1.8 litre bottles as a new local product, both from the brewery shop and at bars and restaurants in the city.
The idea of creating a local sake was first discussed in 2016 by the city, the Chōryō brewery and the local Benzaiten Agricultural Association. The result, even though made from a rice variety not normally used for sake, is a tanrei-karakuchi (smooth, light and dry) junmai ginjō.
The Benzaiten Agricultural Association is a group of 10 farms focused on improving the efficiency of agriculture. They minimise the use of agricultural chemicals and chemical fertiliser to produce a special low-fertiliser/pesticide class of rice, and harvested 1.2 tons of Hinohikari table rice last year. The Chōryō brewery had never used this rice before, but their verdict was that it was very easy to brew with and produced a clear flavour that would go well with a slightly special meal.
Mayor Yoshiyuki Yamamura remarked that until now Kōryō didn't have any special local food products [a major omission for any Japanese town], and that as consumption of sake was increasing he hoped it would also have a positive effect on local agriculture. Masaaki Nakagawa, vice-president of the Benzaiten Agricultural Association and ward councillor of Benzaiten, commented that there were an increasing number of new residents in the area, and that he hoped that making it easier for young people to start engaging with agriculture would result in larger harvests.
A 1.8 l bottle of Kōryō-gura is priced at JPY 2,300, and a 720 ml bottle at JPY 1,150 (both excluding tax).