Award-winning sake brewery Yamatan Masamune takes inspiration from the peaceful sea views of Ehime Prefecture.
Yamatan Masamune brewery aims to evoke a sense of tranquil relaxation with its floral-tinged brews. The brewery faces the charming islands of the Seto Inland Sea, and its sake blends attempt to mirror that same serene view with clean and refreshing tastes. Based in Ehime Prefecture, the brewery prides itself on a tradition of high-quality sake dating as far back as the Edo period. Its commitment to traditional methods of brewing—for example using earthenware pots instead of the more common stainless steel—is the secret behind its award-winning sakes.
Sake started to become prevalent in Japan about 2,500 years ago, when the cultivation of rice became a staple of the Japanese economy. Though sake is sometimes known as “rice wine” the process of making sake is closer to that of making beer, and the way sake is brewed determines its unique taste. Sake’s grade, also known as seimaibuai, is determined by how much the rice is polished. Polishing the rice removes the outer layer to reveal the starch underneath. The more the rice is polished, the higher the sake grade.
Sake comes in different varieties with the lowest being futsu-shu sake or “table sake,” which you might find at an inexpensive izakaya. The rice used in table sake is often polished very lightly or not at all. The next level, honjozo sake, requires the rice to be polished down by at least 30%. The taste is more refined, and you might find this sake at more expensive izakaya restaurants and higher-end sushi houses. Ginjo sake is at the top of the sake spectrum, with the rice polished down by at minimum 40%. To get an idea of the level of quality, Yamatan Masamune’s ginjo sake was the sake of choice for Japanese airline ANA’s first-class section in 2014.
Yamatan Masamune is famous for a number of award-winning sakes. Its ginjo sake has numerous first place prizes in the WGO Fine Sake Awards, and it’s the brewery’s bestseller. It has a light, dry and refreshing taste with a crisp flavour attained through fermentation at low temperatures.
The Shimanami honjozo sake has a more light and sweet flavour. And the Shizukuhime, or “Shizuku princess” sake, won first place at the 29th annual National Spirits Competition. It has a light and fruity flavour. This brewery’s sakes are made with matsuyama mii—a premium variety of rice native to Ehime Prefecture.
Yamatan Masamune brewery’s premium sakes offer a uniquely refreshing flavour inspired by the seaside.