The Gunosy site reports on a collaboration between Kurand, a company developing original products based on sake and other drinks, and two breweries who handle their production from start to finish.
The new series, designed to show off the craftsmanship of the breweries, is called Single Origine Sake and the first kura taking part are Kazuma Shuzō in Ishikawa Prefecture and Tamagawa Shuzō in Niigata Prefecture.
Kazuma Shuzō's product will be called Single Origine Sake Okunoto, named for their local area, and Tamagawa Shuzō's is named Uonuma, also after the area the brewery is located in. Both will be available from Kurand's physical locations and online shop from 13 September 2018. Limited edition "premium" versions were also available in some stores between 19 September and 2 October 2018.
The series focuses on displaying craftsmanship through showcasing hand-crafted sake brewed using only one rice variety grown by one farmer. It also has the advantage of traceability, as the individual farmer is known.
The Okunoto version is made using local Gohyakumangoku rice, brewed to draw out its sweetness, and with a mild taste that makes it easy to keep drinking. [Thoughts on that below.] And also, of course, local water. It has a very low mineral content and produces a soft mouthfeel. Even the microbes are local, as the starter is yamahai.
The Onuma version uses locally grown Ipponjime rice, which the brewery and a local farmer started growing to combat the shrinking number of rice farmers as the farming population aged. It also uses local water, very soft and completely free of iron. The water also penetrates and is absorbed quickly, drawing out the umami and aroma of the rice. Even the yeast is local, a Niigata-only yeast with the romantic name of G9CRNF.
I've always been a bit intrigued by the idea that a mild taste was something that made you not tire of a sake - if anything I thought it would be the other way around. But after having discussed it with someone at the Salon du Sake last weekend I think it's more that it's easy to drink, without anything that stands out and you could eventually have enough of. Still not convinced though...
I thought when I saw "single origin" that the breweries were growing their own rice, but that looks like it's not the case. For complicated historical reasons this wasn't even possible until relatively recently, but more and more breweries are taking over that part of the process especially if they want to grow the rice organically.