Pursuing the ideal sake with 200 years of tradition
The Yokosuka district of Kakegawa City, near Enshunada. The castle town of Yokosuka Castle, built by Ieyasu Tokugawa, has continued for about 300 years under the 20s of the castle's lords.
Looking back at its history, it can be traced back to the Yamanaka family, who were Omi merchants, starting a sake brewing business in what is now Fujinomiya City during the Bunsei era. Four storehouses were built around Mt.Fuji, and then one storehouse was set up here in Yokosuka in search of abundant good water. In the early Showa era, the current Enshu Yamanaka Sake Brewery, which was a branch family, became independent, and will strive to make ideal sake in this warehouse in Yokosuka. The building is from the 7th year of Ansei. Although it is a wooden storehouse that retains the pillars and beams from the late Edo period, it has a three-story workshop. On the first floor, the brewing tanks are lined up, and scaffolding for work is set up like a mezzanine, and on the third floor, there are the koji room, the cooling room, and the mash room. It has a structure that considers the ease of work in the order of the sake brewing process. You won't find a wooden storehouse with such high ceilings anywhere else.
Origin of sake name
Sake that takes over the world and creates peace
Yokosuka Castle, which Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered his vassal Yasutaka Osuka to build in order to counter the westward advance of the Takeda army, and the entire area became the base of Enshu as Ieyasu succeeded in unifying the whole country. . After that, it became Tokugawa's rulership and a peaceful world lasted for 300 years.
Based on this historical fact, the predecessor of Enshu Yamanaka Sake Brewery was named 'Aoi Tenka' from the family crest of the Tokugawa family. In the mid-1980s, a young chief brewer entered the brewery. The predecessor had high hopes for his high level of determination and skill, and with the desire to "take over the world", he launched the "Aoi Tenka" brand. Without waiting for time, Aoi Tenka won the national gold medal, and since then he has been honored with the gold medal for three consecutive years.
From the world of war to the world of peace. The name "Aoi Tenka" contains the joy and longing for such a peaceful world where you can enjoy delicious sake calmly.
Commitment to water
The most beautiful water in the world
Water is said to be the life of sake. Enshu Yokosuka is blessed with such good quality water that you would want to call it the best in the world. The source is the Akaishi Mountains of the Southern Alps. It is said that the rain and melted snow seeping into the ground takes 200 years to travel the long distance to the coastline of Enshunada. At Enshu Yamanaka Sake Brewery, the slowly polished subsoil water is pumped up from 120 meters underground.
Not only is the water quality of super soft water suitable for sake brewing, but it is also worth mentioning the abundant amount of water. As much as 260 liters of clean water is obtained per minute, and it is used not only for mashing, but also for washing rice, which requires a large amount of water. Once upon a time, a glass maker examined the quality and quantity of water in this brewery and decided to expand into the area, and other sake breweries even came to ask for a share of the water.
The advantage of being able to pump up water in the brewery and use it as is is great. This is because deterioration of water quality and changes in water temperature due to transportation and storage can be avoided. Varying water temperatures even affect how water is absorbed when washing rice. Abundant and cool groundwater that is kept at 16°C all year round regardless of the temperature. Here lies the source of Aoi Tenka's taste and quality.
Commitment to sake brewing
Conviction to pursue quality over quantity
"I still don't know what good sake is," said the owner of the brewery, Hisanori Yamanaka.
For example, steamed rice. Recently, an increasing number of sake breweries use mechanical steam, but Yamanaka sticks to steaming using a traditional ``Wagama''. This is because the heat intensity and the way it is transmitted is ideal, and the degree of steaming can be delicately controlled. Conversely, it can be said that it is a technique that reveals the skill of the maker when it is steamed.
There is also a commitment that has been passed down in the squeezing process. Funashibori, which uses an old-fashioned tank rather than an automatic press, is done by lining the tank with sake bags containing moromi and applying pressure from above. Of course, it takes time, but since the mash is squeezed gently, there is no stress on the moromi, which definitely leads to clean sake without any unpleasant taste. Furthermore, it is not possible to squeeze out as much as possible, as bitterness and astringency tend to come out when squeezed out. In some cases, the work of applying pressure is intentionally done only once so that only the best quality parts can be extracted.
In particular, “Aoi Tenka Tobintori” uses bag hanging. This is a method of squeezing sake by hanging the sake bag containing the moromi and squeezing it only by gravity. It takes much more time and effort, and the amount that can be squeezed is reduced, but we are pursuing the ideal sake with a more natural brewing method.
Do not pursue efficiency unnecessarily. Sometimes they don't care about profitability. Continue to use old and good ones. The reason why we support such sake brewing is because we have a stubborn desire to deliver good sake. And the commitment is not limited to the succession of tradition. For example, instead of simply riding the junmai daiginjo boom, pursue new flavors with various rice-polishing ratios and honjozo. Or explore a fresh marriage with Western food. Looking at the possibilities and future of sake, Yamanaka continues to challenge himself to find the answer to “good sake” today.
Flavor that makes you want to drink again after drinking
Yamanaka expresses, “The scent is trapped in the sake.” Rather than an afterthought scent that immediately disappears, each drop is filled with the original scent of sake with delicate techniques. A full-bodied fragrance that rises at the moment of pouring. When you drink it, the fragrance spreads in your mouth, and the lingering aftertaste invites you to the next cup. Clean sweetness. A refreshing feeling that spreads deeply and widely. Its refreshing taste makes it easy to pair with a variety of side dishes, both cold and hot, but the bitterness of fresh whitebait and the spiciness of Japanese pepper complement each other's nuances.
Honored to have won prizes at the National New Sake Appraisal for 9 consecutive years since 2001. Would you like to enjoy it alone? Will you share the deliciousness with your friends and family? Enshu Yamanaka Sake Brewery Aoi Tenka, a pure sake that brings peace to the world.