Brewery Visit to Saito Shuzo

  

Brewery Visit to Saito Shuzo

One of our team’s favourite brands, among those produced in Fushimi’s Sake District, is Eikun. This brand of sake has a completely different taste depending on its grade and kind.

We offer samplings of Eikun on our Kyoto Insider Sake Experience tour. Its fruity flavor is popular with tourists from all over the world. Saito Shuzo, located along the Takase River in Fushimi is the brewery which produces Eikun.

We had a chance to visit this brewery on 9th October, on the same day that this year’s new batch of sake had just been made available. Mr Nakamura, the manufacturing manager, gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of his brewery.

In the Brewery Saito Shuzo

The current sake brewmaster (or ‘toji’ in Japanese) at Saito Shuzo is Mr Urai. He belongs to an organization called Nanbu Toji, founded originally in Iwate prefecture. The brewmaster, or toji, is responsible for managing and directing the entire sake-making process. It requires abundant experience, knowledge and skill to become a toji.
They say that the quality of staff at Saito Shuzo is such that many of them have the same level of skill as the highest qualified ‘toji’. When we heard that, we came up with a simple question – when multiple superior people work together, how can things operate smoothly? However, at Saito Shuzo, it seems there is no problem in balancing the egos of excellent brewers. These highly skilled professionals work together with the joint aim of creating something great. It’s as simple as that. After hearing these stories we could easily see why the sake produced by this team has such an appeal.

Secret of Making Sake

Even in such an environment where human skill is undeniable, the use of machines is not disregarded. In the brewery, where machines are best placed to complete a step in the sake making process, they’re employed to do so. The brewer constantly checks and manages each of these processes – so the human touch is always there, to ensure the sake quality is never compromised.

During our visit, the chilling machine was cooling down the steamed rice.

A brewer was constantly checking both the steamed rice and the cooled rice.

The steamed rice was made up of rice polished to 45%. It was shining like a jewel.
For the first time ever, we were able to try a sample of the steamed rice from this stage of the sake-making process. The rice was unexpectedly hard, and very different from typical cooked food rice. This steamed sake rice will become Kotosennen Junmai Daiginjo, which you can read about in our article “Top 4 Bottles you must try in Kyoto”.

The steamed rice made up of rice polished to 45%

Sake Tasting

After our guided tour of the brewery was complete, they invited us to a sake tasting session. We tasted Junmai Daiginjo “Ichigin”, made using Yamada Nishiki sake rice, thought of as ‘the king of sake rice’. The rice has been polished to 35%, and the sake was  ‘junmai nama genshu’, meaning it was unfiltered sake, with no added water or heat sterilization. On top of this, it was also a ‘junmai koshu’, or ‘aged sake’.

テイスティング

Bottles that they produce

The brewery has won many prizes

After the tasting, we couldn’t help ourselves but buy a bottle of Junmai Namagenshu 24 H (a type of nama genshu which is bottled within 24 hours after squeezing) and Koto Sennen Junmai.

Saito Shuzo opens their brewery for visitors in March and October every year. This is a must-do for genuine fans of Japanese sake.

For those who can’t visit due to time restrictions, you can always try some of Saito Shuzo brewery’s sake by picking up a bottle when you’re in the area. Or, join us on a Kyoto Insider Sake Experience tour, where you’ll get to try and learn about a variety of sake and the secrets of the brewing process (including our beloved Eikun!) first-hand.

When visiting Kyoto, you can’t miss a sake tour of Fushimi – so why not join us on a hunt for the area’s best sake, and find your favourite along the way?

TOURS

関連記事一覧

  1. sake tasting
  2. sake brewery visit

Our Sake Tour Reviews

  • star rating  Hashimoto-san showed me around in the old traditional Sake making district Fushimi and explained me a lot about the Sake making process. I could also visit a bar where I... read more

    miclsc
    4/13/2021
  • star rating  This is a must-do experience in Kyoto. The best part of the tour is that while there is tasting, there is also so much history and knowledge you acquire along... read more

    Crystal M
    4/05/2021
  • star rating  This is the must-do-tour in your life if you are interested in Japanese sake and culture. I am Japanese. And always I wonder about Japanese sake cuz I’ve never met... read more

    Kwbtars
    7/17/2020
  • star rating  Had a blast! Would absolutely recommend to people looking for a Sake Tasting experience in Kyoto (Kyoto Fushimi Sake District - the traditional Sake brewery district). Kotaro and the staff... read more

    KrisDanielUdang
    4/19/2020
  • star rating  I recommend this tour for those that skeptical about sake. Our guide, Kotaro, was a great host and he was very professional and knowledgeable. We had a great evening and... read more

    660joseantonioo
    4/05/2020
  • star rating  I booked this tour during their slow season and the beginning stages of Covid-19 so I ended up being the only person on the tour. It was fantastic! My guide... read more

    NiecyyNastyy
    4/01/2020
  • star rating  Awesome tour! I'm not a sake drinker (always thought I hate it), but I couldn't leave Japan without tasting some of it, obviously and I'm so glad I joined this... read more

    103anickf
    3/24/2020
  • star rating  Kotaro and Mayo were very informative about the processes of making sake and the different types of sake. It was very interesting to do the tasting session and see how... read more

    Laurab0567
    3/24/2020
  • star rating  So very glad I chose this tour. I had no knowledge of the creative process required for sake production. Kotaro painstakingly walked us through the entire “brewing” procedure and the... read more

    maggie44113
    3/14/2020
  • star rating  The Sake experience in Kyoto gave us the perfect Chance to learn everything we wanted to know about Sake. Our Host Kotaro was very friendly, answering all of our questions.... read more

    Leonferdinandcorin
    3/11/2020

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