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Japanese Sake Series: Asahi Sake Brewery

The Asahi Brewery interior

Out with the old, in with the new. With a drive to perfect their craft, Asahi Shuzo continues to find ways to innovate and produce high quality Japanese sake.

Asahi Shuzoe crafts sake to brighten your life, not just to drive sales.

They strive to create the highest quality sake for their customers so they can  simply enjoy the taste and flavours.It isn't intended to be a product of mass consumption. Dassai (their flagship sake) is meant to be a way to experience a pleasant lifestyle. At the same time, they do not want Dassai to be a sake so special, so rare, that nobody can enjoy it: Dassai should be available for anyone to appreciate.

These days, sake producers and liquor stores tend to focus excessively on quick sale strategies and/ or overwhelming marketing campaigns; which, in turn, make them lose focus on the customers’ true need: to enjoy tasty sake.

Asahi Brewery’s hometown in Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan

It is because they craft high-quality sake that they want to share it with everyone around the world.

History and background of the brewery

Asahi Brewery’s famous ‘Dassai 23’

About Dassai

“Dassai” literally means "otter festival". This word was used long ago in their production region, Yamaguchi Prefecture, as there were many otters frolicking in the nearby rivers. Otters would lay fish they caught out on the shore, almost as if they were showing them off – as one would do during a festival.

A famous haiku poet named Masaoka Shiki took “Dassai” as a pen name, because he would often scatter his reading material all over his room in much the same way otters spread out their fish.

Dassai also wants to convey this meaning as part of their philosophy of sake crafting. The theme underlying Dassai sake is "Making sake is making dreams: opening a new era of sake". This means that they shall never be obsessive about traditions or handcrafted techniques. Instead, they want to revolutionise sake crafting, and in so doing make sake the likes of which no one has ever tasted.

Crafting Dassai sake

Sake in the making

The techniques they use to craft their sake could be replaced by machinery. But in order to achieve the precision and quality they demand, they would need machines of  astronomical prices. They would rather use techniques known to be the best, regardless of the cost, to achieve their craft. However, it would not be possible to do this on a day-to-day basis without having experienced staff, who understand the importance of having the motivation to make great sake. All of them have this common goal, which is what keeps Dassai at its best.

The rice before and after the polishing process

Dassai 23, because of its rice polishing ratio of 23%, is probably the most polished rice in Japan. But Dassai does not think this sake is great because it has the best polishing ratio. They are not necessarily aiming for this figure, but are striving to be  the best, most delicious sake in Japan. The only words they fear hearing are: “Dassai isn’t as great as I thought it would be”.

Dassai always strives to craft a well-balanced sake that has a beautiful and dense aroma and a mellow taste, with just the right amount of acidity to tie it all together in a long, lingering finish.


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