Changes in lifestyle, society, and industry have given consumers options and preferences not previously available, and this has led to a time of great challenge for the sake industry. Consumers in Japan now have so much more to choose from beyond sake. Even though sake today is better than it has ever been, the sake world is facing difficult times. Sake brewers must adapt and change in order to survive.
In the face of this, we have followed a natural flow of change, making our company, Asahi Shuzo, one of the most unique breweries in Japan. We have slowly, gently, and carefully changed much about the way we exist and brew, change that has been inspired partly by our own crises and difficult times.And we have emerged with more focus and resolve to create sake like no other.
Over the past few years we have adapted our methods and our brewery to be able to brew year round, something all but unheard of in the sake industry. This permits us to brew our sake in a steady, even flow and rhythm that minimizes variables, allowing us to focus on the details even more.
Details that include labor-intensive hand crafted methods that have been proven over centuries to yield better sake. Details that include the most modern technology applied in the right measure, in the right places. Details that include using only the finest of materials like rice and ideal yeast.
Dassai sake is created using a careful combination of tradition and cutting edge technology. Our brewery is a medley of ancient tools and innovative equipment. We have come to use what works, and leave what does not, choosing what our experience dictates is best from both the old world and the new.
In short, Dassai sake is all about quality, and not quantity, both in how we brew it, as well as in how we hope you enjoy it.
We start with top quality rice, easily the best rice for sake brewing,Yamada Nishiki. We then mill away the outer portion, grinding away the outer half or more of each grain before brewing. Why this extravagance? Because this takes advantage of just what is so special about Yamada Nishiki.
The outer part of proper sake rice is where all the fat and protein resides,with the precious fermentable starches resting safely in the center of the grain. Milling away more and more of the outer part of the grains removes the fat and protein, leaving only the starch behind, leading to the elegant flavor profile that is Dassai sake. Extravagant? Perhaps. Worth it?In light of our pursuit of the best sake we can brew, absolutely. This specially prepared rice is then brewed by our young, enthusiastic brewers using clear, clean local water in the isolated, pristine environment of the mountains of Yamaguchi Prefecture, on the southern tip of Honshu, the largest of Japan's four main islands. The result is sake with an identity; delicate, refined and graceful.
At Asahi Shuzo, we brew only premium junmai ginjo and junmai daiginjo sake. There are but a few breweries in all of Japan that focus all effort on making only top grade sake. Our commitment to this defines every aspect of our brewery's existence.
Dassai "50" is a premium junmai daiginjo sake, made from only rice milled down to 50%, water and koji mold. Clean, soft and very subtle, the balanced aromas and a mild sweetness envelop the senses making Dassai enjoyable on its own, or with a meal of refined cuisine.
A centrifuge machine used for separating completed sake from the lees. Asahi Shuzo was the first company in Japan to use such a machine.
Dassai "23Ni-wari San-bu" junmai daiginjo is the sake that defines Dassai. It is made with rice that has been milled so that only 23% of the original size of the grains remains, this is the highest degree of milling of any sake in the world. Going to this extreme allows us to create a sake like no other, a sake that is the pinnacle of refined elegance, subtlety, and delicate flavors and aromas.
Focused, attention to detail while trying new things, things never considered in the sake world; this is part of what defines Asahi Shuzo and the sake known as Dassai.
The name of our sake, Dassai, means "otter festival," and the origins convey much of what we are about. Part of the name refers to an ancient name for the region here in Yamaguchi Prefecture, as long ago there were many otters frolicking in the nearby rivers. Otters will lay out the fish that they catch on the shore, almost as if they are showing them off in a festival. This led to references to "otter festivals" in ancient poems. But there is more...
A famous haiku poet named Masaoka Shiki that lived about a century ago referred to himself as Dassai, because of his propensity to scatter his reading material all over the floor of his room in much the same way as otter spread out their fish, so much so that there was no room to walk around.
More importantly, Masaoka was instrumental in creating a revolution in Japanese literature during his time. We want to convey that nuance too, as part of our philosophy of sake brewing. The theme underlying Dassai sake is"Making sake is making dreams: opening a new era of sake." To us, this means that we never become complacent with existing tradition and handcrafted techniques, but rather we want to reform and revolutionize how some things are done, and in so doing make superior sake.