The nobleman’s drink – 勝 山 暁(あかつき)
This legendary brewery delivers rich history and flavour to the discerning taster.
There are few sake breweries in the world that can claim as big of a mark in history as Katsuyama. Established in 1688, the brewery is located in the Sendai Domain—a region founded by none other than Date Masamune, one of Japan’s most beloved and greatest samurai lords from the feudal period. To this day, the Sendai region produces some of the best-tasting and highest-quality rice. A connoisseur of good foods and beverages and particularly passionate about sake, Masamune set a precedent of fine sake in the region, and the Isawa family’s brewery was founded to produce exclusive sake that would please the feudal lords of the Sendai Domain.
A continuing tradition
Now, over 300 years later and long after the samurai have perished, the 12th generation of the Isawa family continues to brew sake that satisfies the most discerning of palates. Katsuyama has an intense focus on brewing from only the best available rice, screening for things like hours of exposure to sunshine, high-quality water, and rice grains with the best shapes and colours. Their brewing techniques are honed to perfection, with a blend of ancient and innovative methods. Centuries and generations dedicated to brewing sake have made the current Isawa family some of the top sake-brewing experts in history.
The secrets are in the umami
One of the strongest characteristics of Katsuyama’s sake is its ability to draw out the umami in foods. Umami is now recognized by the rest of the world as the fifth taste (along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty) and refers to rich and savoury flavours. Because of its low acidity and its own umami profiles, Katsuyama’s sake blends excellently with foods to accentuate flavours that deliver depth and richness. If you’ve never given much thought to pairing foods with sake, Katsuyama’s sakes will make you an instant believer. The pairing possibilities are endless with sake, and there’s a world to be discovered outside of Japanese cuisine. You may be surprised to find that sake is an excellent pairing with French and Italian dishes—even better than wine in some instances because of sake’s low acidity and high content of amino acids.
Combining modern and traditional techniques
The Junmai Daiginjo Akatsuki is the flagship of Katsuyama. “Akatsuki” translates to “a new dawn”—an appropriate name for a revolutionary sake brewed by a unique combination of tradition- al and cutting-edge techniques. Katsuyama uses a tailor-made and space-age centrifugal machine to extract the pure essence of each rice grain. Elegant, aromatic and full-bodied, the sake tastes like true perfection. Delicious at room temperature or chilled, the Akatsuki is the ideal companion for both Western and Eastern meals that are rich with umami. Remember to pour only a little at a time to maintain the right temperature for every sip.
Akatsuki will be showcased at Kampai Toronto 2016.
- Fierce, sophisticated and enigmatic, Date Masamune has long been admired as one of the most fascinating figures in Japanese history.
- Masamune not only had a refined palate but a penchant for samurai fashion. He dressed his men in some of the most elaborate and impressive (but highly functional) armour.
- In fact, Masamune wore a helmet with a crescent moon that is said to have inspired Darth Vader’s helmet.