The Mediterranean sake journey - part II

Local rice makes the sake world bigger

When I started defining the type of sake I wanted to brew, the first think I want to learn was about sake terroir, and the first think you learn, is that you are talking about water. For an outsider, like me, this sounds strange, more over because the first interest that I had in brewing sake, was because I wanted to used my rice, a local rice harvested in Ebro’s Delta. I wasn’t thinking about water, I discovered sake, looking for possibilities to make cool things with rice. And once I tasted the junmai sake style, was love at first sip.

Going back to the story, once you start entering in the sake world, you learn, that is very difficult to brew sake with rice that has not very precise characteristics. For that reason the industry has evolved, where almost everybody is using few varieties of rice. Being the Yamada Nishiki from Hyogo the king of the kings. This is because two reasons:

  • is easier, never is easy to brew sake, but yes easier, to brew good sake with it,
  • and gives the sake the taste profile that has been consider the “perfection”.

For that reason, since the 90s, where this trend imposed, the brewers has been using and improving his brewing skills to dominate this kind of rice. Being the difference, the big difference, between sakes, the skills of the toji and the water. Reason that for some time, the terroir has been the water & and the toji, since in every guild of Japan there is a style.

Coming from a wine culture, I remember something similar happened with the wine, where everybody was using, for the same reasons, the same grapes varieties. Nowadays this has change and everybody is rescuing local grape varieties. Reasons: to increase diversity, open the wine to more palates and to promote local wine regions differentiation.

My opinion, with sake is going to happen the same. Using different rice varieties will give more different kind of sakes, that will help increase the sake adepts and help rice farmers and rice areas of the world.


When I started brewing back in 2008, I tried different rice varieties in order to find the perfect one, because I couldn’t understand sake brewed by me that wasn’t using local rice. At the end, I was promoting a rice area. I knew, I am not going to get the perfect sake rice, but for sure I can find one is going to work. At the beginning, I thought, I just need a rice that provides good flavor, at the end, I learned what I actually needed is a rice big enough, rounded, with good shinpaku, the perfect amylose amylopectin composition, doesn’t break during the polishing operations…After 5 years, trying all the local varieties I find one.

Because local opinion is important, in order to choose the rice variety I organized a lot of sake tastings with local customers, and doing so, I realized that they need a fusion sake, more adapted to their palate, with a more wine profile, meaning more aromatic and less alcoholic. Actually this makes totally sense, because the customers here have the palate adapted to wine. My guess was choosing a local rice will approach sake romantically and flavourly too, because the terroir will provide local flavors that are more recognizable to the local palate.

As is happening with Japanese food, the sake needs to be a little bit adapted to local palate. At least for a while.

I know that using this rice path is going to be harder, longer, and not everybody will understand my sake or share my vision. But since we launched, at 2015, we have been improving and increasing demand. Now after two years, we feel the market is more ready for a more Japanese sake, reason we launched, two weeks ago, a Genshu style.


Using a local variety is necessary to make sake global. Luckily, these days a lot of Japanese tojis are sharing my opinion, where there is a quest to brew great & different sakes using you local rice.