Yahoo Japan News covers a story in Asahi Shimbun Digital about a 150 year old Gifu sake brewery who found themselves at a loss… but turned it into a gesture of support for their community.

Watanabe Hisanori, kuramoto [蔵元, owner] of Watanabe Shuzōten in Hida City, had brewed a special sake for the long-awaited Japanese Olympic year and was now unable to sell it in the current depressed pandemic climate.

So he took to social media to give away 100 bottles of the special brew, initially planned to sell for JPY 50,000 (before tax) each to encourage others suffering during the coronavirus crisis.

Watanabe had planned on the junmai daiginjō Daburyū [驒飛龍, ダブリュウ, “dragon of Hida”] selling to overseas visitors to the Tokyo Olympics planned for summer 2020. But with the games officially delayed by a year, he also lost his opportunity to sell such a high-class sake. As the sake was about to reach its planned peak, Watanabe made the call to give it away.

He put the word out on Twitter, expecting maybe 3,000 responses. He got 100,000. The person in charge of the giveaway was also stunned, and nervous about how to choose the 100 winners.

Daburyū is made from Yamada Nishiki sake-specific rice grown in Hyōgo Prefecture. Most of Watanabe Shuzōten’s daiginjō sake is polished to 40%, but this one was milled down to just 18% in pursuit of a perfectly pure and clear flavour profile. Extra care was taken at every stage of its labour-intensive and ultra-traditional production, right down to gravity-fed drip pressing through cloth bags stained with persimmon tannins.

The 100 bottles in the giveaway are the entire production run, and Daburyū is said to have extremely clear flavours and a fine balance between sweet and dry. The brewery is accepting entries for the giveaway until 20 September 2020. Follow the brewery’s Twitter account and reweet to enter. The sake will not be available through any other channel.

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