Most sake brewers are an artist. They like talking about dreams and philosophy. So, when tasting a sake, it is always more fun to learn the story behind. And in Nagano, there is a sake project, “Gokujo”, that has recently caught the eyes of many sake fans. Led by 5 middle-aged brewers in pursuit of their dreams, this project has now returned for its 6th year with the theme “Double Six Game”. So, what is special about this year and the sakes?

2 Spirits: Ambition & Terroir

Brewing Rules
Since 2015

“Gokujo”, translated as “59 Brewing”, is a 10-year project co-launched by 5 sake brands from Nagano Prefecture: Hokkou Masamune, Ikioi Masamune, Sekizen, Moto Oi No Matsu, and Fukumuryo. Their brewers were all born in Showa 59 (1984) and share the same dream – make an iconic sake of the era and promote Nagano sake to the whole Japan. So, since 2015, the project has been started with the aim of getting more people from other regions to taste Nagano sake while polishing their brewing craftsmanship.
Each year, a new theme is set and each brewer produces a sake based on it with a designated Nagano rice and 59% rice polishing ratio. Since different rice is used each year, the taste also differs. Together with the meaningful concept, the project has attracted the support of many sake lovers, so every year once the new edition is released, it is gone quickly.

6th Year: Move Forward or Backward?

In its 6th year, the brewers recognize the project may reach a bottleneck. Moving forward or backward is like playing “Double Six Game”, the Japanese version of “Snakes and Ladders”, so they have decided it as the theme of this year. To see if they have breakthroughs, they have also brewed the sake with Miyama-nishiki, the rice they used for the first year. With each brewer employing different brewing methods and yeasts, although the same rice is used, the taste and style of their sake is so different. As a sake lover, let’s support these 5 dreamers by tasting their sake and find out our favorite.

 Mellow and Soft  

Hokkou Masamune, Junmai Ginjo
(Limited Edition 2020)

Tasting Comments: Mildly sweet with the notes of melon, passionfruit, peach, and hints of white rice, white flower. Well-balanced with mild umami and acidity. Nice choice for a casual dinner.
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 Light and Easy-drinking 

Ikioi Masamune, Junmai Ginjo
(Limited Edition 2020)

Tasting Comments: Mildly sweet with the notes of white rice, cereal and hints of green apple, white grapes. With mild umami and acidity, it is a simple, pleasant choice as an everyday sake.
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 Refreshing and Crisp 

Sekizen, Junmai Ginjo
(Limited Edition 2020)

Tasting Comments: Dry with the notes of mandarin orange, melon and young banana. The finish is refreshing with a tingling sensation that can stimulate your appetite. Nice choice on a humid hot day.
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 Fruity and Sweet 

Moto Oi No Matsu, Junmai Ginjo
(Limited Edition 2020)

Tasting Comments: Extra sweet and fruity with the notes of lychee, passionfruit and peach. Mouth-coating texture with pleasant umami and acidity. Nice choice to pair with savory dishes.
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 Robust and Rich 

Fukumuryo, Junmai Ginjo
(Limited Edition 2020)

Tasting Comments: Mildly dry and abundant in umami and acidity. Robust with the notes of white rice, hazelnuts, peanuts, and hints of banana. With a firm texture, it pairs well with salty, oily dishes.
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Behind the Scenes: Sake with Rock n' Roll

Most people think they should seek a stable life after turning 30. However, in the eyes of the 5 brewers of “Gokujo”, it is just a beginning. To record the progress of producing Gokujo, they have produced a music video with Rock & Roll that shows how they brew sake in a freezing winter. The impression of sake may be elegant and classy, but Gokujo has let us know it can be wild and cool. Let’s enjoy their sake while watching this passionate video!