Sake producers move into vodka
Sake producers move into craft vodka making amid concerns about global sake sales.
Japan’s traditional sake producers are moving into craft vodka making to meet the needs of various markets and ensure their survival.
The new trend is to make craft vodkas often from the same high-quality rice or barley that is grown and used to make quality sake in Japan.
A new Japanese vodka brand is preparing to launch a number of Premium Rice Vodka products in the U.S. in early 2023, in partnership with a century-old sake brewery in Fukui. The collection includes vodkas flavored with mango, lemon, shiso, yuzu and sudachi (Japanese citrus), each reflecting the roundness and sweetness of their base grain, Yamadanishiki rice.
“Unlike normal vodka, the main feature is the distillation of alcohol derived from rice, which is produced under the precise control of fermentation, like the traditional method of producing sake,” the brand’s product description reads. “This unique method results in a clear, impurity-free taste.”
The historic sake brewery in Fukui, where the vodka is made, is not named
Similarly, Okayama Craft Vodka Aki Hikari is made with elite local Nijo brewery barley, distilled in pot stills, then filtered through birch charcoal.
Aichi Craft Vodka Kiyosu is made by the sake producer Kiyosuzakura Brewery. Founded in 1853 in Aichi Prefecture on the main island of Honshu, Japan, the brewery has focused on sake for 170 years, but has also begun producing shochu, liqueurs, gin and now vodka.
These small-scale craft products join pioneering Japanese vodkas such as Suntory’s Haku vodka, made from pure Japanese short-grain rice and fermented with Japanese koji mold, with filtering done over bamboo charcoal.
Blended in Osaka, this vodka is available for sale.
Finally, Wa Premium Craft Vodka, one of the first Japanese vodkas to be made from sake. Wa was created in the city of Mito, the cool springs of this “water city” being a key element.
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