Brewer’s Interview “HIYAOROSHI” Yasushi Okazaki from Okazaki Shuzo
New series "BREWER'S INTERVIEW" has just started! This is the project to know more about brewer's way of thinking and the behind-the-scenes of sake. SAKEMARU interviews brewers from various perspectives. The first brewer is Mr. Yasushi Okazaki from Okazaki shuzo, which offers SAKEMARU's October special sake. The topics for this month is "HIYAOROASHI, Autumn limited sake".
If you don't know Hiyaoroshi, let's check this article first.
Q. How is Hiyaoroshi in this year?
In last year, we missed the best timing of pasteurization, so that it was very regrettable. By making good use of the experience, we succeeded to pasteurize it at the best timing. In accordance with the tradition, we still mature sake in the sake barrel under room temperature. Our brewery is dark and cool even in Summer, great condition for maturing sake for short period. The taste of sake got mellowed and richer than last year.
Q. To Okazaki shuzo, what’s the meaning of Hiyaoroshi?
Our sake brewing is designed to reach the summit of deliciousness in Autumn, so that now is the best condition to enjoy our sake. Honestly saying, I’m a big fun of Hiyaoroshi and hope people to enjoy Hiyaoroshi from September to the end of December in various ways, like chilled, warm and hot.
However, lots of breweries recently have come to release the newly brewed sake nouveau from November. I’m a bit sad that the period to enjoy Hiyaoroshi becomes shorter and shorter.
Q. When you take maturing into account, do you take something special for brewing?
It’s started from very beginning of the process. Firstly, I’d like to touch upon washing rice. We wash and soak rice by hands, because the tiny difference of water amount that rice absorbs gives quite large effect to the next step, Koji production.
Koji production is the most important step to produce hi-quality Hiyaoroshi. As I said before, we mature sake under room temperature, so that sake itself has to be strong enough. Without hi-quality koji, we never gonna make the strong sake.
We figured out the best timing to add koji mold and the best environment in Koji room through repeating try and error. With using this best practice, we carefully make Koji little by little to maximize the quality.
In addition to Koji, what we stick to producing Hiyaoroshi is the selection of rice. It is said that the king of rice "Yamadanisiki" is the most stable rice to produce hi-quality sake.
However, we’ve been using local rice "Seitonoshizuku" 100% to contribute to the growth of local agriculture. It was very challenging, because "Seitonosizuku" is good rice to make sake full-bodied, but it is difficult to make its finish clear.
By using "Yamadasnishiki" 50%, we have solved this problem. There is a long long history up to the current version.
Q. As same as brewing, we think the maturing should be inevitable to mostly rely on the nature process. Do you have something unforgettable experience?
When I was a beginner, I failed to make Hiyaoroshi once. Because I neglected to control the level of drying koji, the taste of sake became very plain like water. Despite of maturing for more than half year, the taste was still super plain. I don’t want to recall the moment I tasted that sake at first.
Q. Hiyaoroshi is the Autumn limited sake. Please tell us your recommendation how to enjoy Hiyaoroshi
It might depend on the climate to drink Hiyaoroshi, but I love to drink it chilled without any hurry.
Freshly produced sake nouveau will be released in Dec, however I recommend to stay with Hiyaoroshi and make it hot hot sake and enjoy!!