Following up on the article about the sake that didn’t know what it was called yet, now the new era name has been announced Reiwa-themed drinks are flowing onto the market.
The Shokuhin Sangyo Shinbunsha (Food Industry Reporter) has no less than six sake and one beer taking the name, while Sankei News covers a pair of sake named for the current Heisei and future Reiwa eras.
- Endo Shuzōjō (Nagano) announced a limited edition special “Reiwa” junmai on 2 April (720 ml JPY 1,200 excluding tax). The label features a simple, dynamic black and white design with calligraphy of the new era name. The junmai won a gold medal at Monde Selection, and is made from sake-specific rice brewed slowly at low temperatures to bring out the umami and sweetness of the rice, along with delicate aroma and soft mouthfeel. [Intriguingly, it’s called 特別な純米酒 (tokubetsu na junmaishu). Which is tantalisingly close to 特別純米 (tokubetsu junmai), one of the legal classifications. Hmm.]
- The Sogo and Seibu department stores are selling a celebratory sake from Suishin Yamane Honten in Hiroshima Prefecture, Suishin junmai daiginjō New Era Celebratory Sake, from 1 May 2019. (720 ml, JPY 5,000, excluding tax) Made from Yamada Nishiki milled to 30% and soft water, the sake has a uniquely fine, silky mouthfeel. The label has a picture of Mount Fuji by Taikan Yokoyama, a pre-WWII Japanese painter with links to the brewery, plus the characters for Reiwa. Only 500 bottles are available. [I was trying to figure out where I knew the name of this brewery from... They make the sake available in the foreign food section of the Swiss Coop supermarket.]
- Hakutsuru, one of the big players, is releasing a sake pressed on the first day of the new era. The junmai nama genshu Tokusen Hakutsuru Reiwa Hatsushibori started production in time to press on 1 May 2019, with bottles shipping the next day.
- Kiku Masamune will release a limited edition commemorative sake on 15 April, Chōtokusen Keishuku daiginjō Reiwa (720 ml JPY 1,100 excluding tax). It will have the characteristic kimoto qualities of depth of flavour and short finish, stored unpasteurised and undiluted at low temperatures and pasteurised only once when bottled to retain freshness. The label is bright and flowery with “Keishuku” (“congratulations”) and Reiwa at the centre. The brewery hopes it will be suitably festive for the long string of consecutive holidays Japan will enjoy as the era changes. [Nine or ten, depending on how your employer chooses to interpret them.]
- Another big brewery, Ozeki, are keeping to their classic “one cup” (180 ml) size with a limited edition One Cup Daigingō Reiwa (JPY 254 excluding tax). Released on 1 May, the label features the sun rising over the famous “diamond Fuji”.
The Ume no Yado brewery in Nara are celebrating with a twin release of the last pressing of the Heisei era (which ends when the current emperor steps down on 30 April) and the first of the Reiwa era (which starts with the accession of the new emperor the next day). The pair will be released as a gift set on 2 May 2019.
Ume no Yado brew from October of one year to May of the next. Those of its staff born in the Heisei era say these sake are some of the most emotional they've ever made. Their junmai ginjō pressed on 30 April, named "Heisei no osake", and another junmai ginjō "Reiwa no osake" pressed the next day, will be sold in 720 ml bottles with space on the label for gift-givers to add their own message or drawing. The Heisei one is slightly dry with clear flavours, while Reiwa is slightly sweet with mellow flavours.
Reservations for the gift set close on 20 April, which will obviously only be available this year, priced at JPY 5,000.