We went to Nira Shuzo for the sake tour.
A 15-minute walk from Matsusaka Station in Mie Prefecture, the area is famous for its Wagyu Matsusaka (Matsuzaka) beef.
Mr. Nario Nira, president and the head brewer of the brewery showed us around.
“It is said to have been founded around 1868. However, I don’t know the details.", he said.
Pure, mellow water continues to gush out from the Nira family’s water well, just as it has in the past.
“This water is underground water from the Nunobiki Mountains, which extends from the Suzuka Mountains. I believe our ancestors built a sake brewery here because of this water."
We heard a lot of stories about going to India when he was young and his passionate thoughts about aged sake.
While listening to the stories, we sampled more than 10 types of precious aged sake, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
When he took over the sake brewery, he started making sake with his own hands.
“I’m the fourth generation, but I feel like I’m the first generation.My father was a pure president and didn’t make sake.But I didn’t just want to manage the business, I wanted to make it myself. With this water, I wanted to make sake that matched to my taste.", he said.
Mr Nira was the first president and the head brewer at the same time in Mie prefecture.
“For the first two years, I got trained by the koji making expert that I visited him every year. After that, I pursued the sake I wanted to make."
At a time when the number of people drinking sake was decreasing significantly, the entire industry was in a structural recession.
“Even now, I think there are many sake breweries that are struggling to manage. Ours was in bad shape, too. But what’s the point in competing with breweries that make a lot of sake in terms of quantity, or competing with companies that sell a lot in terms of price? That’s why I decided to break industry conventions and do what I had to do."
So, in the past, people only had a fixed idea that aging sake was just old, so he decided to try making aged sake.
Vintage sake has a profound meaning, and even now we are making it without knowing what will become of it.
What he said really impressed me.
I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Mr. Nira’s personality and this space where you can enjoy aged sake while listening to jazz music.
We’d love to come back here again.