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

Related post

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  2. sake tasting
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Our Sake Tour Reviews

  •   Enjoyed very much. Location was nice. Instructor was great! There was a nice variety of sakes presented. All in all a very enjoyable and informative experience.

    thumb TenMuses
    12/11/2019
  •   I've tried to learn about sake before having gone to several free 'educational' tastings and experiences - this is the first time I've actually absorbed and understood what I was told! Knowledgeable guides, very friendly and helpful who not only answered all our questions about...More

    thumb Ross P
    12/10/2019
  •   As with wine and whiskey, much thought and variability goes into the making of sake. No better way to learn about different kinds of sake and judge the taste for oneself than taking this tour.

    thumb JoshJoshi
    12/09/2019
  •   Kotaro was very knowledgable about the different types of sake, the production process, and what types of food to pair them with. We also learned how to read the labels to identify the different types of sake. The sake itself was delicious, and the pours...More

    thumb Christopher P
    12/09/2019
  •   Kotaro and Maria were both very friendly and knowledgeable during this tour. They gave a good overview of how sake is made, the various types and how to distinguish them, as well as tips for buying sake and pairing it with food. I feel like...More

    thumb mihikareddy16
    12/06/2019
  •   This was an extremely well structured, informative and enjoyable tour. The leader (Kotaro) was very knowledgeable and the visits and tasting were excellent. The notes that were used in the tasting were also excellent.

    thumb DebitoN
    12/05/2019
  •   We learnt so much in a really interesting and engaging way. The guides were so lovely and very informative. One of the highlights of our trip, I would highly recommend!

    thumb Jessica_Melbs_89
    12/02/2019
  •   I really learn more about sake. Just wish it was more in depth. maybe have 2 kind of courses? Also the pairing didn't really work. Only the vintage sake.

    thumb 159jennifer
    12/02/2019
  •   Awesome! Learned so much! That Junmai and cream cheese combo is unforgettable! Great tour, good hosts and unique.

    thumb greengal2017
    12/02/2019
  •   I had tried sake before my trip to Japan, but really knew nothing about it. This tour was great, I left with an understanding and appreciation of sake. I loved being able to try several different kinds of sake, while learning what my preferences were....More

    thumb alisondmoore
    12/02/2019

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