Introduction of Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery
In this age of ever-diversifying choices, the number of sakes available to consumers is also increasing.
Yet Kiku-Masamune has consistently held fast to its pursuit of authenticity despite the fads of the moment.
We have been able to do so because we believe that consumers will never tire of drinking authentic Japanese sake. And we believe that crisp, dry sake provides precisely this type of timeless authenticity. Crisp, dry sake is free of any lingering sweet aftertaste so that the flavor of the cuisine is not lost. Many Japanese dishes feature delicate flavors derived from the unadorned taste of natural ingredients, requiring a sake lacking in intense flavors of its own (so that drinkers will not tire of it) to complement them in the manner of high-quality water. Only dry Japanese sake can play this role.
Customers worldwide have chosen the smooth, dry sakes that we produce based on these beliefs.
History and background
Shipping sake barrels
A single thread unites Kiku-Masamune's history since its founding 350 years ago: the resolute and unwavering pursuit of dryness.
Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing was founded in 1659, when Japan was ruled by Ietsuna, the fourth Tokugawa shogun. The Kano family built a sake brewery at their residence and began large-scale brewing operations. At the time, the Nada region, where they lived, had not yet become well known for its sake, but the subsequent popularity in Tokyo of sake from Osaka and Kyoto, known as kudarizake , led to a rapid surge in demand for sake from the Nada area. Tokyo residents were particularly fond of sake made by the head Kano family, who produced mostly kudarizake.
During the Meiji period, Jiroemon Kano (Shukoo), the eighth head of the family, laid the foundation for today's business by pioneering industry-leading improvements in technology and pursuing a range of initiatives to increase the quality of Kiku-Masamune's sake in the service of the ideal of "doing whatever it takes to create a better sake."
It was during this period that the Kiku-Masamune brand was registered as a trademark. From the Meiji period to the Taisho period, the company laid the groundwork for its subsequent development, for example by increasing overseas exports and serving as a purveyor to the Imperial Household Agency.
That the brewery strived to maintain quality even in the face of the hardships of the tumultuous Showa period is evident in the results of a 1949 public opinion survey conducted in six of Japan's largest cities by an industry newspaper. Kiku-Masamune took top place in three cities and led in the overall results of the poll, which asked respondents to identify the sake brands they preferred to sell and the brands that they believed offered a particularly high level of quality. These results indicate the extent to which sake stores recognized the brand's quality as well as the popularity it had earned.
What was it about the quality of Kiku-Masamune sake that earned the approval of professionals in this way? One answer to this question revolves around the brand's single-minded pursuit of dryness. Customers simply do not tire of drinking dry Japanese sake that has been brewed using the same Kimoto method since the Edo period by Kiku-Masamune's master brewers, who have taken great pride in honoring the brand's tradition of brewing only dry sake. Going forward, Kiku-Masamune remains committed to this single-minded pursuit of dryness.
Kiku-Masamune Brewery’s essential ingredients
Sake brewing process
People say that the process of making sake starts with growing rice, and indeed, rice has a profound effect on the flavor of sake.
Kiku-Masamune has long used only Yamada-nishiki brewer's rice as the most basic ingredient for its sake, the result of a stubborn dedication to exceptional quality. Yamada-nishiki is a type of sake rice, or shinpaku-mai, that is characterized by a larger grain size than normal rice varieties, low protein content, and a soft consistency that allows the yeast to more easily penetrate the rice. Furthermore, this variety's thin surface layer of bran, which makes it easy to absorb and digest but hard to husk during the milling process , is ideally suited for use as sake rice.
Kiku-Masamune’s master brewer at work
Authentic dry sake is the essence of Kiku-Masamune's approach. It would be impossible to bring about the refreshing, robust flavor of this sake without the mystical flavor of Miyamizu water. Water used to brew sake must be not only free of turbidity and contamination so that it tastes delicious, but also extremely low in iron, which can compromise the color and flavor of the sake. Miyamizu water contains almost no iron yet is rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Dry sake is the most authentic and abidingly popular variety of Japanese sake, one that complements the flavor of Japanese cuisine and one that you will never tire of drinking. Not only does Japanese sake play a supporting role for Japan's rich culinary culture, but it also is attracting attention worldwide in connection with the booming popularity of Japanese foods such as sushi. Kiku-Masamune will continue to pursue the ideal of authentic dry sake with a refreshing flavor that is free of impurities and a crisp, clean finish that perfectly complements all styles of cuisine.