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.
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.