Rejoice, sake lovers around the world. The publisher of the iconic Japan Beer Times Ry Beville has teamed up with my personal sake guru, John Gauntner, to produce the world-first dedicated Sake magazine. It will be published bi-annually and can be easily ordered online. The inaugural issue covers a broad spectrum of sake topics, from “sake 101” to in-depth overview of a single ingredient, rice. There is also advice on sake selection, insider information on best sake bars in Tokyo and a report on sake activity around the world. My personal favourite was the article “Regionality in Japanese Sake: East and West, coastline and mountains” by Haruo Matsuzaki. With Ry’s permission, I am publishing an excerpt from the article below. The passage explains the difference in sake styles depending on the seaside or land-locked location of the brewery. Since ancient times, seaside areas have developed through maritime activity. Additionally, there are many fiat areas, enabling relatively easier shipping routes across land as well. Because of the development of ground transportation routes, the shipment of a variety of goods became possible as well. This included not only fresh fish from the ocean, but other fresh food products to go along with it. Not surprisingly, lightly seasoned cooking where the ingredients themselves lend conspicuous flavor became the norm. The flavor of sake along the coastlines followed suit, with many types tending toward light, relatively dry taste. Some prefectures that typify this include Miyagi, Shizuoka, Niigata, Toyama and Kochi. Each of these prefectures has large fishing ports and residents customarily have diets rich in seafood. We could probably say these ports also account for the type of sake produced. In more mountainous areas the distance to the ocean is significant and the transportation of goods is more time consuming. Until only very recently residents had not been able to eat fish products of the freshest quality. For that reason, though, salt, soy sauce and sugar have been used to better preserve food. Additionally, there are frequently times when the roads are closed in the mountains during winter because of heavy snowfall. For that same reason, food needs to be preserved for longer periods, giving way to dishes with greater saltiness and sweet-ness. To complement this the flavor of sake from these regions is frequently richer and more complex. These days we have chilled shipping and fewer obstacles, but still the representative sake from places like Yuzawa (Akita), Aizu (Fukushima), and Hida (Gifu) continues to be rich and slightly sweet. How does climate affect sake? And brewing techniques of each toji guild? What about modernisation of sake industry, and its impact on local flavours? You will need to buy the magazine to find...Read More
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