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Established in Nagano Prefecture since 1866, Senjo Brewery was named after “Mount Senjo” in the Southern Japan Alps where they are located.
In order to pay tribute to the founder, Mr. KUROgouchi MATSUjiro, they especially named their leading brand as “Kuromatsu Senjo”.
Throughout the years, in the hope of promoting and preserving local cultures, they have been adopting only the local ingredients such as the rice “Hitogokochi” to brew their sakes.
Because of the huge difference in temperature and high elevation in Nagano, the rice grown there is always considered to be high quality.
Combining it with the underground water from the Japan Alps, the sakes of Senjo are famous for being “Fine, Sweet and Rich”, widely loved by many locals.
The Oldest Sake Brewery in Tokyo
The Oldest Sake Brewery in Tokyo
Tokyo is not just a commercial city, but also embraces some excellent sake breweries. The oldest sake brewery here is called Ozawa Brewery, which has been established since 1702 with a history of over 300 years. Situated in Ome City, west of Tokyo, they are surrounded by beautiful rivers and valley, which provide a perfect environment for sake brewing. Being so grateful for the nature, they especially named their brand after the village where they are located as “Sawanoi”, which means “shining clear water”.
Even though Ozawa Brewery has an exceptionally long history, their techniques are surprisingly modern. Rice polishing is one of the most important steps of sake brewing. If a sake is brewed using the rice grains that are broken or have different sizes, the crisp mouthfeel will probably be ruined. To make sure the quality of rice grain is perfect, the whole polishing process is carried out and monitored by themselves.
The brewery is also particular about the brewing equipment. Almost all fermentation vessels are equipped with a system that can adjust the optimal temperature and time. However, being the oldest brewery means they have also kept the essence of tradition. Their Kimoto sake is produced in traditional wooden tank because the porous nature can keep the lactic acid bacteria to grow healthily. What’s amazing and special about this kind of vessels is that there is, in fact, only one manufacturer left in Japan who can produce them. Without a long history, it is almost impossible to get your hands on them.
The whole structure of the brewery is fascinating as well. Fermentation and maturation usually require low temperature, but since there was no air conditioning in the past, the brewery had a 50 cm thick door built in the brewing house so that heat could be blocked. Even during a hot summer, the inside temperature is still around 20 degree Celsius, resulting in an ideal environment for maturing Koshu.
What makes the brewery differ from others is they own 2 sources of water. One is from the cave located inside the brewery, which offers medium-hard water rich in minerals that can be used to produce a more robust sake like Kimoto. Another one is from the river nearby, which provides soft water that is suitable for long-time fermentation and Daiginjo brewing.
Having been frequently awarded, the brewery is well-known for their concept that is to produce sake which fits the culinary culture of Tokyo. As most dishes in Tokyo are seasoned with soy sauce, their sake is usually dry or medium dry with acidity so that it can bring out the umami in the sauce. The finish is particularly short so it can help refresh the palate.