As a sake lover, many of us have tried “Kiss of Fire Junmai Daiginjo”. Delicious with a chic bottle design, it has been chosen to serve VIPs at grand events like the celebration ceremony of Louis Vuitton and Nobel Prize bouquet and even scored 93 points by Robert Parker in 2016. With such fame, most people would throw their attention on “Kiss of Fire” rather than its brand “Jokigen” or the producer, “Kano Brewery”. Yet, Kano Brewery is actually famous in Japan for their Yamahai brewing. Even NHK and Nakata Hidetoshi, Japan’s national soccer player, have paid visit to the brewery. Indeed, what’s great about Kano Brewery? Let’s relearn about it.
Brewer’s Philosophy: With Great Sake, One Will Always Be HappyEstablished in 1819, Kano Brewery has already had a history of over 200 years. Their brand, Jokigen, which literally means “always happy”, was named after a quote by their 4th generation owner – “With great sake, one will always be happy”. It reflects the philosophy of the brewery that they hope to delight everyone by making a nice sake. To create such a sake, they consider ingredients as the key. They not only brew their sake with the rice grown by themselves, but also select the best water near their location. Brilliant quality of ingredients has resulted in brilliant sake, so they have frequently won gold medals in big-scaled sake contests such as Annual Japan Sake Awards and Fine Sake Awards.
One of the Most Well-known Brands for Yamahai Sake BrewingKano Brewery is famous for their Yamahai sake. Back in 1998, they succeeded in convincing Noguchi Naohiko, the most legendary Yamahai sake brewer who had retired, to return to the industry and work for them as a master brewer. Regarded as one of the best brewers in Japan and successfully making “Kikuhime”, another sake brewery become world-famous, Mr. Noguchi has created a series of excellent Yamahai sake for Jokigen in the 2000s. It was so amazing that even NHK reported their story in 2010. Although Mr. Noguchi retired again in 2012, he has left his biggest legacy to the brewery – the knowhow and techniques. Throughout the 14 years he was working for Jokigen, he has nurtured some of the most fabulous young brewers who are now in charge of the production of the brewery and continue to make successful Yamahai sake.
Aim at Creating the Best Sake for Food PairingUnlike the modern style of sake which is usually fruity and sweet, the sake of Jokigen is relatively robust and rich in umami. Even the Ginjo class usually shows rich aromas of rice and banana. The reason is what they aim at creating is a sake which can pair well with food and such a sake usually requires umami rather than fruitiness. Thus, apart from Yamahai, aging at low temperature is another technique they usually employ for their sake. Kiss of Fire Junmai Daiginjo takes 3 years while their most premium Yamahai Daiginjo up to 6 years. As the water they use is low in mineral, it has also softened the mouthfeel and created a better balance.