Meet the brewery where “nothing has changed since the beginning.”
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a sake brewery more dedicated to its craft than Yamada Shouten. Its hand-crafted sake is brewed through a painstaking labour of love, using techniques passed down unchanged for generations, and with good reason. Why mess with perfection?
Founded in 1868, Yamada Shouten’s labels proudly display its staunch motto: Mukashi no Manma, or “nothing has changed since the beginning.” And if its Everlasting Roots sake is an indication, nothing should change. Cold or at room temperature, the brew’s citrusy profile takes centre stage. But warming the sake releases rich and nutty notes with hints of cocoa and clove, bolstered by an underlying base of summery orange. Curling up with a warm cup of Everlasting Roots would be just the thing to ward off winter’s chill.
The seimaibuai, or milling rate, of Everlasting Roots is quite high at 55%. Seimaibuai indicates how much the rice has been polished, thus removing the starch and making it easier to drink. By extension this determines a sake’s grade. At 55% seimaibuai, Everlasting Roots is a top-quality sake that drinks incredibly smooth. The brewery is located in Gifu Prefecture and is known to be one of the smallest breweries in all of Japan. Yamada Shouten truly lives and breathes its motto. Even today, the company mills its rice by hand― impressively rare for a brewery so small. And the water comes from an onsite well that contains no sulphates or preservatives.
Because it is such a small brewery, and the milling is so labour-intensive, Yamada Shouten makes only a few thousand bottles a year, so if you can get your hands on a rare bottle of Everlasting Roots consider yourself lucky. As well, it doesn’t sell anything under 900 ml, which was the standard bottle size back in the day. Just another way Yamada Shouten distinguishes itself as a steadfast upholder of sake-brewing tradition. Boasting a remarkable adherence to time-honoured methods, and sake lauded for its smooth yet complex flavour, Yamada Shouten and Everlasting Roots are here to stay.
*Yamada Shouten Everlasting Roots can be found at select LCBO stores.