Brewer's Interview - Vintage of Sake - Shimizuya Shuzo

Shimizuya shuzo is a unique brewery, all their label has vintage. Some breweries focus on producing the aged sake but there is only one brewery 100% focus on vintage in Japan.
The brewmaster told us a part of their idea against vintage in sake.

Q. What's the characteristic of Vintage 2015 among other vintages?

2 years aging makes the taste of sake mellow and perfectly balances the sweetness and bitterness. As the yellow color of liquid shows, it's not heavily matured, so that it's very well-balanced sake which we can enjoy the excellence of both fresh sake and aged sake.


Q. Shimizuya Shuzo is a brewery has just restarted brewing for the first time in a quarter-century. How will you inherit the tradition and skills?

The 6th generation has taken over the tradition to brew sake with the signature brewery rice "Gohyakumangoku" and original yeasts.
We tried to keep the production quantity smaller and carefully produce sake. It's difficult to produce a large amount of sake with this method, but we have just restarted, it's necessary to keep the uncompromising quality.


Q. You consider that "vintage" way of thinking is essential to develop the sake culture from a higher viewpoint. Simply, which is more important vintage or terroir?

Both of them are equally important. But, each of them gives the different effect against taste. Our priority is now toward vintage.


Q. To consider about good aging, what're the requirements against brewery rice?

The mandatory condition is the large size of starch centered in the core of rice. For long-term aging, the rice contains the smaller amount of amino acid is better. For short-term aging, that contains a larger amount of amino acid is better. The amino acid is the key of mellowness and richness of aged sake. By studying the brewery rice, we change the way of aging.


Q. What's the best way to enjoy this vintage sake?

It's matured for 2 years. Aging is still ongoing. The little loosen sourness and mellow umami pairs with grilled chicken and fish very well.

Q. Do you have any new special challenges on brewing in this year?

Unfortunately, we will not brew sake in this year, because the quality of rice in this year was not good enough.
We all know our fans are waiting for our newly brewed sake but we reached this decision to keep the quality.
Talking in the context of "challenge", we will start growing rice by ourselves from next season.