Introducing RIHAKU sake brewery

13 Jun 2018

History


Rihaku Shuzo was founded in 1882 in Matsue City in Shimane. It was named after a famous poet in China, who is also known in English as Li Po, or Li Bai. Rihaku was a wandering poet who lived from 701 to 762 and was known for his glorification of alcoholic beverages (and, indeed, frank celebration of drunkenness), writing some of his best poetry while completely intoxicated. The brewery often uses Rihaku's poems and phrases in their brochures and labels. Several of their sakes are named with phrases from the great poet's words.


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The Sake


Rihaku brewery's sake can in general be described as mellow and well-rounded. It leaves a wonderful lingering sensation, and overall has a good "umami" to it, that hard-to-describe something that satisfies you, and makes you want a bit more. It has sharp finish and is wonderful to enjoy with food.


Rihaku makes several types of sake, at least one for each occasion. The diligent effort and great skill of toji (head of the brewery) and kurabito (brewery workers) are evidenced by the many gold medals the brewery won in the New Sake Tasting Competition.


Rihaku especially focuses of the quality of water and rice. The water used for sake comes from a deep well near the brewery; it is soft water that melts in to the palate, drawing the various flavors with it. Even the simplest sake is produced with the high-grade sake rice, which is significantly different from table rice; and Rihaku believes is worth using in all sake.


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Philosophy

"Popularize drinking culture and pass it down to future generations" is the management philosophy of Rihaku Brewery. While keeping their brewing style old fashioned, the brewery is still innovative and progressive in its sake making.

Just as Japanese food is spread abroad, and diversification of food is progressing in Japan, even breweries with old traditions need diversifying. Rihaku says that tradition must not be stubborn; progress is necessary in tradition, too. They blend traditional and modern brewing techniques and technology. They strive to disseminate Japanese sake and have been exporting sake abroad actively since the 1980s.

Recommendation

We recommend trying Rihaku Junmai Ginjo Ryounintaishaku. The subtitle of Ryonintaishaku is one of Rihaku’s famous phrases explaining the situation of two good friends drinking sake together. This Junmai Daiginjo is characterized by a well-rounded flavour with a solidness to the flavour and fragrance, and clean finish. We recommend serving cold and sharing it with your friend!

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