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October 16th Is National Liqueur Day! Celebrate with Fruit Sake!

October 16th Is National Liqueur Day!

National Liqueur Day on October 16th annually celebrates the myriad classes and flavors of liqueur.

The word liqueur comes from the Latin liquifacere, which means “to dissolve”. A liqueur is an alcoholic beverage made from a distilled spirit. Liqueurs are prepared by infusing certain woods, fruits, or flowers in either water or alcohol and adding sugar or other items. Others are distilled from aromatic or flavoring agents. While liqueurs are typically considerably sweet, distillers do not usually age their product long. They do, however, allow a resting period during production, which allows the flavors to marry.

There’s a liqueur for everyone’s palate, from the more common fruit, coffee and chocolate flavors to the exotic licorice and flower liqueurs. This is they day to celebrate and enjoy the many varieties of the sweet alcoholic drink!

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Miwaku Fruit Liqueur Series

Miwaku fruit sake series are produced by Aichi based Maruishi Jozo, an award winning brewery with more than 330 years of sake brewing experience. The base is junmai-shu so you can also expect a high-quality taste of sake. Made from carefully selected fruits, mainly from Aichi Prefecture, so that you can fully enjoy the aroma and taste of the fruits as they are. The low alcohol percentage of just 7% is attractive even to those who don’t normally like alcohol and it is perfect for making cocktails!

Miwaku no Momo is a treat for peach lovers! This liqueur is mildly sweet so it goes down very easily. The peach taste gives this sake just the right amount of sweetness. Try it mixed with rum or rose sparkling wine.

Miwaku no Mango is great for those who crave the flavor of tropical fruits. It is made with alphonso mango which is considered to be among the most superior varieties of the fruit in terms of sweetness, richness and flavor.

Miwaku no Ichigo is made with juicy and sweet strawberries, a flavour which is hard to resist! It has strawberry jam-like texture and fruity flavor. The sweetness of the strawberries is gently enveloped by the sake, and the crushed strawberry seeds are an added attraction!

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Kinokuniya Bunzaemon: Sake Inspired by the Legendary Edo Merchant

The Legend of Kinokuniya Bunzaemon

Kinokuniya Bunzaemon, one of the most famous business tycoons from Kishu (former name of Wakayama), made a fortune in the Edo Period by risking his life to transport loads of Kishu mikan (mandarin oranges) on a ship called the “Kinokuni Mikanbune” to Edo.

Arida in Wakayama Prefecture has long been famous for its mikan cultivation. Mikan is said to have been introduced from Yatsushiro, Kyushu Island in 1547, and took root here as Arida had little flat land and it was difficult to grow rice.

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In 1634, Tobei Takigawara of Arida decided to send his own mikan oranges to Edo (current day Tokyo) by ship. They were a hit there, and from then on Arida mikan oranges were always in a high demand. However, one particular year, when the annual Fuigo Festival (which has a tradition of throwing mikan to the children) in Edo was approaching, the sea was too rough to sail and both the farmers who grew the oranges and the merchants who sold them were in trouble.

However, a 17 year-old young man who would later be known as Kinokuniya Bunzaemon, bravely volunteered to ship mikan. Even this would be a dangerous trip,  he knew that if he shipped the oranges now, they would sell like hotcakes. Kinokuniya Bunzaemon was joined by his two friends and overcoming the challenges,  they managed to safely deliver mikan oranges to Edo.  With the money earned from selling mikan, Bunzaemon became a merchant dealing in lumber in Edo, and is said to have made a great fortune.

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Kinokuniya Bunzaemon Junmai Namachozoshu

Wakayama-based Nakano BC is best known for their premium umeshu, but they are also brew high quality sake brand “Chokyu” and “Kinokuniya Bunzaemon”.  The brand name “Kinokuniya Bunzaemon” was inspired by this story and is brewed to a higher quality with the aim of creating a sake with a gentle taste of rice that is typical of Wakayama.

It is an unpasteurized junmai sake with a gentle taste of robust rice flavor typical of Wakayama. Heat treated once, it has the freshness that only unpasteurized sake can have, and a firm but gentle aroma that no other unpasteurized sake has. Recommended to serve chilled. Enjoy the well-balanced and refreshing taste!

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Yuki no Matsushima: Sake Brand Inspired by the Beauty of Matsushima

Modern Sake Brewery in Tohoku

Miyagi Prefecture is one of the leading rice producing areas in Japan. It has been about 20 years since the brewery was established in Taiwa town, a place blessed with limpid water from the Mount Funagata in the center of Miyagi Prefecture. Taiwagura Sake Brewery has been making more than 30 kinds of sake, including Junmai-shu and Ginjo-shu. They strive to deliver better sake to more people. In order to realize this desire, the brewery is equipped with one of the most modern facilities in the Tohoku region. By mechanizing most of the processes, the brewery has been able to save a great deal of labor and produce high quality sake with less than half the staff of conventional breweries.

That being said, the root of sake brewing is still supported by the experience, knowledge, and intuition of the brewers who actually do the brewing. With the help of the latest technology, the brewery belives that they must also pass on the traditional skills of sake brewing. With this in mind, Taiwagura Shuzo will continue to pursue the pursuit of sake that will please everyone by combining advanced and traditional techniques.

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Sake Brand Inspired by the Beauty of Matsushima

The brand “Yuki no Matsushima” was named after the famous scenic spot of Matsushima islands, which was also praised by Basho, the supreme Japanese haiku poet. It snows only a few times a year in Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, and the splendor of the islands, especially when it is first covered with snow, is the reason for the name of the sake, which is meant to represent the Tohoku region.

Yuki no Matsushima Umakara Junmaishu is, as the name states, dry junmai. The acidity and richness of the flavor punch first from the nose. The mouthfeel and texture are smooth and mellow, with a moderate fruity sweetness and a strong saltiness. Although the acidity has a strong impression of the aroma, the bitterness and dryness that seeps through the throat and rises from the depths of the bottle spread quickly. It is a complex fusion of flavors, and it feels like discovering a new combination of “dry and ginjo”.

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The Best Selling Sake in September Was Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi 720ml!

The best selling sake in September was Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi 720ml!

Kizakura Brewery is an acclaimed Japanese sake brewery based in Kyoto, Fushimi, famous sake region in Japan for over centuries. Fushimi is blessed with natural medium soft water, called Fushimizu, and it is one of the main elements that make Kyoto sake taste soft and gentle. This kind of sake made with soft water is called feminine style sake (onna-zake).

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Onna-zake is made with mineral-light soft water, giving a gentler, slower-fermenting moromi, resulting in sweeter sake with lower acidity. It is soft, smooth, and easy to drink. In contrast, otoko-zake (“masculine sake”) is usually brewed with hard water (containing large quantities of various minerals), which tends to lead to a strong, dynamic fermentation requiring a relatively short time, and a resulting product that tends to dry sake with high acidity.

Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi is without a doubt one the best products from this brewery. A fantastically affordable sake for drinking every day, it is a staple in Japanese restaurants, and for good reason. It is a mellow and soft sake. If you’re new to sake this is a fantastic choice, as it develops different characteristics at different temperatures, allowing you to explore your own palate. Try this both chilled and warmed up!

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Yamahai Jikomi is made using a traditional slow fermentation technique process at low temperatures with extra time and care. This gives this sake rich flavour and semi dry taste with a good amount of acid. Kizakura Yamahai is the perfect food sake that goes well with any Japanese dish. Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi has a long list of awards thanks to Kizakura’s decades of experience, coupled with an endless passion for reinvention and innovation.

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Sake Is the Best of All Medicines: Meaning Behind the Proverb

Sake Is the Best of All Medicines

In Japanese there is a saying  “Sake wa hyaku yaku no chou” meaning sake is the best of all medicines. In a similar way, Italians have a saying “good wine makes good blood”, but these are proverbs are not calls to overindulgence. Rather, they are proverbs that show these are drinks that are very much connected to the Japanese and Italian culture, history and land.  So sake is as much about a relationship with the Japanese culture and identity as it is about taste and experience.

The origin of this proverb is the Book of the Later Han, one of the official Chinese historical works complied in the 5th century. It is sometimes followed by another saying “sake wa hyaku doku (poison) no chou”, meaning that sake’s the worst poison. This later proverb comes from the Essays in Idleness written by Kenkou Yoshida in the 14th century. This is a good example of the Japanese people’s fondness of moderation.

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Kinsen Sake Wa Hyaku Yaku no Chou

The current brewer of the Kinsen brand is Aihara Shuzo, the maker of another famous brand called Ugonotsuki, but it was originally a brand name of Horimoto Shuzo in Mitsu, Akitsu, Hiroshima Prefecture. When Horimoto Shuzo went out of business, Aihara Shuzo brought in Atsushi Horimoto, a skilled toji (master brewer), and added the brand name to the Aihara Shuzo lineup.

Kinsen’s flagship sake, Kinsen Sake Wa Hyaku Yaku no Chou, makes a bold but solid statement that is hard to disagree with. It is a junmai ginjo sake with a rich ginjo aroma and a sharp, clear taste that goes well with seafood dishes such as bonito tataki, as well as Chinese dishes such as haposai and spring rolls.

A soft, dry and even slightly grainy start spreads into a lighter finish with a bit of bitterness and sweetness coming out of the recesses. There is a thickness to Kinsen that survives long into the finish, which is fairly quick despite all that is happening before its turn to take the stage comes. Take a time to enjoy this special sake!

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September 28th Is Drink Beer Day! Celebrate with Kinshachi Akamiso Lager

September 28th Is Drink Beer Day!

Beer can be enjoyed on almost any day of the year, however this day is certainly an extra special one. It’s Drink Beer Day, an enjoyable day which has the dedicated activity is clearly stated in the name. What could be better?

Every year on September 28th, National Drink Beer Day honors the malty elixir. As the Oktoberfest season draws to a close, the day serves as a reminder to partake in the world’s most popular adult beverage.
Beer drinkers now have more options than ever before in the market for ales and lagers. The craft beer industry’s expansion keeps the competition and flavors vibrant, churning out new flavors seasonally. Beer lovers quench their thirst with flavors that are vastly different from the beers of their grandfathers. When it comes to artisanal brews, everything from root beer to raspberry, caramel, and traces of herbs tickles the palate.

And this day offers the simplest of instructions when it comes to this world-renowned beverage: drink beer. Now it’s time to raise a glass of your favourite ale or lager and celebrate Drink Beer Day!

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Celebrate with Kinshachi Akamiso Lager

If you are looking for try a new taste, Kinshachi Akamiso Lager is the answer!

This unique Japanese style Lager is brewed with akamiso (red soybean paste), a specialty of Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. Exotic and unorthodox, it has a beautiful bold palate with rich flavour and a sweet scent, created by combining the umami of red miso and malt. The velvety smooth finish and its miso flavour is well suited for this style of beer and is a must-try among beer advocates. And we have just the perfect snacks to go with this unique beer!

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Nakano Shuzo and the Two Chiebijin Brands

Nakano Shuzo and Their Two Brands

Nakano Shuzo was founded in 1874 and is located in Kitsuki City, the northeastern part of Oita Prefecture. The castle town, which still retains the atmosphere of the Edo period, used to be lined with sake breweries. With the passage of time, one brewery after another went out of business, and today there is only one, the smallest, Nakano Shuzo, located farthest from the castle town. Since its establishment, the entire staff has been dedicated to brewing sake that is loved by the local community and that the community can be proud of.

The brewery’s brand name “Chiebijin” (智恵美人, written in kanji), which has been used for generations, was named after the founder’s wife, Chie. Since its establishment, the brewery has been making local sake of Kunisaki Peninsula, but the new sake brand created by Atsuyuki Nakano, the fifth generation president, is called “Chiebijin (ちえびじん, written in hiragana).

It’s not just a matter of changing the kanji to hiragana. The hiragana version, “Chiebijin,” is a high quality sake with a special name, and is only shipped to specialty sake stores nationwide, while the kanji character “Chiebijin” is positioned as a traditional local sake. The latter is  made to match the local sweet flavored dishes, and has a strong sweet and umami taste, while the former has a more refined taste  – very soft and fruity.

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Compare the Two Chiebijins!

Kanji Chiebijin (智恵美人) is the local product representing Kitsuki-shi in Oita. This junmai ginjo is brewed using natural underground water pumped up from 200 meters below the brewery and locally produced Yamada Nishiki rice from Kitsuki, Oita Prefecture, polished to 55%. Enjoy the balance between the sweetness that spreads in your mouth and the gentle aroma that follows.

Hiragana Chiebijin (ちえびじん) junmai ginjo has a fruity aroma, a round sweetness that is gentle on the palate, and the full flavor of Yamada Nishiki is well-balanced by the firm acidity. This is a sake to be chilled and enjoyed in a wine glass. In 2016, for the first time ever Japanese sake was given Parker Points (score awarded to a wine by Robert M. Parker Jr.,  one of the most influential wine critics), and Chiebijin Junmai Ginjo Yamadanishiki received an Outstanding rating of 90 points. Only 78 items received 90 points or more, making it a very narrow field.

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Kaganotsuki Gekko: Soft Radiance and White Glow of the Moon in a Sake Bottle

Kaetsu Shuzo 

The history of Kaetsu Shuzo dates back to the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), and the brewery has been refining its techniques in order to produce sake that will please customers, and in recent years has received high praise for its ginjo brewing. The brewery is characterized by the pure, unadulterated flavor of its highly refined sake and its natural, understated aroma, making it an extremely delicate brewery even in the snowy Hokuriku region.

It is often said that water is the life of a sake brewery. Kaetsu Shuzo is located at the foot of Mt. Hakusan, one of the three most famous mountains in Japan. The cold, clear subsoil water originates from the Hakusan Mountains and is produced from melting snow. According to the theory, this water spends at least 100 years slowly filtering through deep underground until it reaches the well .

Kaetsu has won many awards, including the Gold Award 15 times at the National New Sake Competition sponsored by the National Institute of Brewing Research, the most prestigious competition in the sake industry. In 2012 and 2013, Kaganotsuki (the representative brand of the brewery), was selected as the sake to be served at the Nobel Nightcap, a celebration following the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.

Kaganotsuki Gekko Junmai Daiginjo

Kaganotsuki Moon series is made for those with philosopher’s taste buds. In pursuit of an intangible artform, Kaetsu Brewery aimed to capture the soft radiance and white glow of the moon in a sake bottle. And they may just have succeeded. Gekko meaning “moonlight” evokes a mysterious, still and thoughtful imagery, that this sake aims to encapsulate in one bottle.

This junmai daiginjo is made with 50% polished Gohyakumangoku rice from Ishikawa Prefecture. Kaganotsuki Gekko won the “Highest Gold Award” in the Premium Kanzake category of the National Kanzake Contest 2016. Exquisitely harmonious natural rice flavor and savory ginjo incense, reminiscent of mysterious moonlight. It has a gentle aroma and a smooth and deep taste, and you can fully feel the umami of rice. Sipping on this sake under the moonlight would certainly make for a wonderful special moment!

 

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Shochu Starts with Kagoshima: Try the Traditional Kagoshima Imo Shochu!

Shochu Starts with Kagoshima

Shochu making began in Kagoshima around the 16th century. It is thought that the distillation technology developed in West Asia was introduced to Kagoshima from Siam (today’s Thailand) via Okinawa. At first, rice was the main ingredient, but the Shirasu region covered with the volcanic ash of Sakurajima was not suitable for rice production, so it did not take root. It took the arrival of sweet potatoes for shochu production to flourish in Kagoshima.

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The cultivation of sweet potatoes began in Kagoshima in the 18th century. The sweet potato seedlings brought back from the Ryukyu Islands were suitable for cultivation on the Shirasu plateau, so they spread quickly throughout Kagoshima, and the sweet potato shochu production took root. Kagoshima still produces the most sweet potatoes in Japan, accounting for more than a quarter of the total domestic production. Another reason why so much sweet potato shochu is made in Kagoshima is that the city has been actively doing research relating to using sweet potatoes in shochu.

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Try a True Kagoshima Imo Shochu

Since the times of the Satsuma clan, Kagoshima has positioned sweet potato shochu as an important local specialty, and has encouraged its production and quality improvement. As a result, many shochu breweries have refined their shochu-making techniques through friendly rivalry, and even today, more than 100 shochu breweries continue to improve their techniques. Today, there are more than 2,000 brands of Kagoshima’s imo shochu, and it is said there is no brand that tastes the same.

One of the breweries that has always had a strong passion for making a good imo shochu is Ogatama Shuzo. Established in 1894, the brewery continues brewing shochu using century-old traditional methods, with earthenware pots buried in the ground and aged to achieve its mild, elegant flavour.

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Tekkan is the flaghsip brand of the brewery. Only carefully selected satsuma sweet potatoes are used, and both the primary and secondary brewing are done in a traditional earthenware pot. Enjoy the aroma, softness, and fullness of the drink. Tekkan Imo Shochu is the perfect representation of what Kagoshima imo shochu should taste like!

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September Is Honey Month! Try Choya Honey Umeshu

September Is Honey Month!

If you love any and everything that is related to honey, bees and beekeeping, get ready because it is time to celebrate Honey Month!

Honey Month is a celebratory and promotional event that is held annually during the month of September. Its purpose is to promote US beekeeping, the beekeeping industry and the use of honey as a natural and beneficial sweetener.

In the United States, honey collection season typically concludes in September as bees begin to secure their hives and prepare for winter. In the spirit of celebration, here are a few fun, crazy facts you may not have known about bees, beekeeping, and honey!

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open-honey-jar-icon-hand-3299909-removebg-previewThere are nearly 20,000 known species of bees throughout the world.

open-honey-jar-icon-hand-3299909-removebg-previewA single worker honeybee produces approximately 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. That means around 22,700 bees are needed to fill a single jar of honey!

open-honey-jar-icon-hand-3299909-removebg-previewA single honey bee will visit 50-100 flowers on a single trip out of the hive.

open-honey-jar-icon-hand-3299909-removebg-previewHoney never spoils. When sealed in an airtight container, honey is one of the few foods known to have an eternal shelf life.

 Try Choya Honey Umeshu

To celebrate Honey Month, how about trying Choya’s Honey Umeshu. You might discover a totally different way to enjoy honey!

Located in Osaka, the company first started as a wine-grape grower in 1914. Later in 1959 CHOYA began production of Umeshu, a traditional Japanese ume fruit liqueur. Today CHOYA is the No.1 Umeshu making company in the world and their mission is to produce and promote the finest Umeshu made from natural ingredients.

This classic umeshu is a beautiful balance of sweetness and tartness of the ume (plum), with notes of almond for its pit. It is made with 100% natural honey with no sugar added. Serve well with soda water or as cocktail base.

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