Sake Bar Yoramu

Yoram Ofer is something of the lone wolf with a reputation. People who know of his Kyoto-based bar Yoramu (the Japanese phonetic spelling of his name) sometimes whisper that he is… different. Some in the sake industry consider him a heretic. On hearing rumors of his eccentricity, people might be a little intimidated about going.…

Yamagata Sake

One of the primary forces currently driving the positive state of affairs in the sake world is the emergence of young brewers. The transition from an era in which those who actually brewed sake were farmers who had no work in the winter months and therefore worked for sake breweries only during that time period…

Kaetsu Shuzo: Sake to Tame a Fox

Countryside towns in Japan, while short on residents, never seem to be lacking in folklore or legends. Some are so outlandish, one wonders if sake may have been a major influence in their creation. The small town of Agamachi in Niigata, home to some 11,000 or so residents, has one of the more interesting legends…

Sake of the South

People have long said that the warm climate of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four major islands, is not suitable for making sake, and it is therefore predominantly a shochu-producing region. Geographically, the island of Kyushu can be roughly split into north and south along the prefectural border of Miyazaki and Oita, with that line…

Konishi Shuzô

Imagine for a moment running a family-owned business founded in 1550. What would you feel? Excitement? Honor? Nervousness? Now consider that this business suddenly has to operate in a global market–the alcohol beverage industry–and that this space is fiercely competitive. What then? Pressure? “No, no pressure at all,” says Shintarô Konishi, 15th-generation president of Konishi…

Tsuruoka

Mount Haguro is a holy place of such atmospheric dimensions with its towering, 600-year-old cryptomeria that one might imagine–or just as easily believe–the spirits of the mountain are quietly watching all who pass through their wooded realm. There are plenty of believers on the 2466 stone steps leading to the top. Some are travelers who…

Koshi no Kanbai Tasting Notes

Daiginjo Chotokusen While ginjo aromas are usually described in terms of melon, banana and apple, the ginjo aromas of this sake are like a Venn diagram of them all; no one element stands out any more than another. The fusion of these all creates a hard-to-describe but distinguished and refined aroma that leads to a…

Koshi no Kanbai

Not every kura can be a rustic reminder of the past. As technology advanced it became more efficient to house a brewery in a modern building that eschews traditional architecture. Surely the romantics among us love that old wooden kura with its elegant, aged beams and signature chimney. But let’s be honest–when it comes down…