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The Sankei Biz site reports on a limited edition sake with a twist – it’s made with a kōji variety normally used for shōchū, a traditional distilled Japanese drink.

The Hara Sake brewery has been operating in Niigata Prefecture for over 200 years. Once a year, they release just 150 bottles of their Koshi-no-Homare shirokōji junmaishu Circs namazake.

Sake is normally made with ki-kōji (yellow kōji). Shiro-kōji (white kōji) produces more citric acid than its fellow yellow or black strains. Yellow kōji produces a sweet, chestnut-like taste, whereas white kōji gives an acidity not unlike lemon. The Hara brewery brews with white kōji to make a sake relatively high in acidity with a firm, fresh character. They also select yeast to complement the kōji, with the end result a fruity, apple-flavoured ginjōka with refreshing acidity that goes particularly well with meat.

Only one tank of Circs is made every year, and the sake is released when brewing is complete and the mash is pressed, hence there being only 150 bottles. Sold as unpasteurised namazake, it offers the freshness of just-brewed sake alongside the unusual acidity from the white kōji. Made from Niigata sake-specific rice milled to 65%, it’s 15% abv with a nihonshudo of -3, and a 720 ml bottle sells for JPY 1,389 including tax.