I was glad to join the Brewery tour to “Azumanada Sake Brewery" in Katsuura, a famous fishing town on the coast of Chiba Prefecture. (About an hour and a half’s away from Tokyo by train) The brewery carries two brands of sake, “Azumada Nada" and “Narumi", intotal produces 200 koku (approximately 36,000 liters) a year.
The brewery was founded in 1865, the same year as many significant events in modern Japanese history, such as the end of the Tokugawa shogunate’s 260-year rule and the assassination of Sakamoto Ryoma.
The brewery’s “toji" (master brewer), Mr. Yuzuru Kikuchi san, enthusiastically introduced us to the various equipment used in the brewery, such as the rice washing machine, dehydrator, steamer, temperature-controlled KOJI room, and different yeast they uses. He also explained that because polishing rice is a crucial step in making premium sake(Ginjo), they wash rice in 10KG lot.
Mr. Kikuchi also gave us a special introduction to the yeast used in the brewery. We learnt from himng that “Two bottles of yeast are added to brew 1,000 bottles of one-liter sake." He also mentioned that recently, the brewery is challenging themselves by creating old taste sake using a unique combination of “YK555" – made from the No. 5 (KamoTsuru) yeast from Hiroshima with rice polished at 55%. They also do sakes with the No. 6 (Aramasa) yeast x polished rice at 60% and the No. 7 (Masumi) yeast x rice polished at 70%.
The sake from the “Azumanada Sake Brewery" tends to be dry taste, with a crisp finish. Their most representative sake is “Tokubetsu Junmai Nyasebanaru," which has a cat drawn on the label by famous local cat artist named Kenshi Mera. It goes well with seafood.
As a fan of Ginjo type of sake, I highly recommend the following two sakes from the Narumi brand:
“Narumi Kimoto Junmai Usunigori Nama Yamadanishiki," which has a refreshing and slightly sparkling taste due to the second fermentation of sediment remain in the bottle. It will be perfect summer sake.
“Narumi Junmai Ginjo Nama YK555," which is a signature sake by toji, Yuzuru Kikuchi san. It has a sweet and fruity aroma and a light, refreshing taste with a well-balanced acidity.