A craftsman’s sake
A drink so good that it makes the gods dance.
Located along the west coast in one of Japan’s most sophisticated food cultures, Ishikawa Prefecture, Shata Shuzo Brewery crafts incredibly delicate and refined sakes that sake aficionados go crazy for. Among its lineup of fantastic sake, the award-winning Tengumai 50 Junmai Daiginjo is handmade from some of the finest ingredients—and with the skill and technique that goes into it, this sake is truly the work of craftsmen.
The tengu is a feared creature in Japanese folklore that resembles a monstrous bird in human form and acts as a guardian to forests. Back in the Edo period, Shata Shuzo was surrounded by dense forests where you might find the creature. The name Tengumai (dancing tengu) was born out of the image of the usually stoic tengu dancing with joy after a taste of this sake.
Founded in 1823, Shata Shuzo’s family-run brewery is currently operating under the eighth generation, and they take their sake-making seriously. Every step of the process is monitored by humans and is done with painstaking diligence. The finest sake rice in the world from Hyogo Prefecture (Yamadanishiki Gohyakumangoku) is brought to the brewery, where it goes through a careful polishing and washing process that takes weeks and is overseen without pause by expert eyes and hands.
The secret is in the koji
Shata Shuzo operates under the philosophy that koji (or rice malt) is one of the most important elements in good sake, and they undertake a very involved process to make their own koji and introduce it to the polished rice grains. Well-trained sake masters study the unique characteristics of the season’s harvested rice to find the optimal time, temperature and strength for mixing the two elements together. The intuition and skills practiced by these masters cannot be imitated by even the most sophisticated machines and are the secret behind this exemplary sake.
Well-suited for the food-centric culture of the region, the Tengumai 50 Junmai Daiginjo is an elegant but complex sake that pairs splendidly with any meal: it has an almost magical ability to transform nearly every food into a delicacy. It pairs especially well with elegant flavours, such as silken tofu, sushi and lightly sauced foods, and is most delicious at room temperature.
The Tengumai 50 Junmai Daiginjo was declared the winner in the Junmai Daiginjo category at the Sake Institute of Ontario’s Sake Day 2015.
Ishikawa: Japan’s “food treasury” prefecture
Ishikawa is perfectly situated to take advantage of the best food that the sea and mountains have to offer. Its varied geography and climate have given rise to a distinctive food culture that has had ancient and modern foodies from all over the country flocking to get a taste. Delicious foods need to be accompanied by delicious sake, of course, and luckily the clean rivers and groundwater in the area make it ideal for sake production. A new bullet train makes it easier than ever to visit this culinary heaven.