A tale of resiliency lies behind this refreshing sake.
Homare’s Junmai Daiginjo Black Label is a refreshingly dry and fruity sake that overflows with elegant sweetness and rich fullness. This Junmai Daiginjo is made from premium sake rice, called Yamadanishiki, and fresh water from Kitakata City, the hometown of Homare Sake Brewery. Junmai in Japanese translates into “pure rice,” meaning that breweries employ the more traditional method of brewing sake to produce a Junmai Daiginjo. As a result, this type of sake only contains four ingredients: rice, water, yeast and koji. Junmai Daiginjos, unlike a lot of other sakes, have at least 50% of the outer hulls of each rice kernel milled away. The amount of rice hull that is removed translates into the end quality of a particular sake, with more hull removed resulting in a higher-quality sake.
The Homare Sake Brewery has won 13 gold medals at Japanese sake competitions, with the Junmai Daiginjo taking home the coveted Champion Sake prize at the prestigious International Wine Challenge (IWC) in 2015, beating out 876 competitors. This top prize both celebrates the individual brewery as well as recognizing the resiliency of the Fukushima area in the Tohoku region, which was previously devastated by Japan’s 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Fukushima lost 4,000 of its residents to the disaster, with many thousands of other residents being forced to abandon their homes. The Tohoku region is still recovering from the nuclear disaster that rocked Japan; however, sake breweries in the area are a cause for hope and a source of pride for the area that has struggled ever since the disaster.
In the past five years, sake brewers in the Fukushima area have won the most gold medals of all sake-producing regions at both Japanese and international sake competitions. Hiroyuki Karahashi, the president of the Homare Sake Brewery Co., stated in 2017, “If we can show that Fukushima makes the best sake in the world, surely we can overcome the stigma.” Ever since the 2011 earthquake, questions have surrounded the safety of food products (both agricultural and fishing) of the area due to concerns of radiation contamination.
Gold medals in prestigious international competitions are making headlines and putting Fukushima in the news for happier reasons than the events that made headlines in 2011. Still, consumers can rest easy: to this day, all products manufactured in Fukushima are subjected to stringent tests for radiation.
Homare’s Junmai Daiginjo pairs deliciously with sushi and tempura. You can also enjoy it, chilled, on its own. For now, this deliciously refreshing sake is available at two LCBO locations: Steeles Ave. E/Markham Rd. and Hwy. 7/Woodbine Ave.