Sake rebounding on tradition

If you know the difference between junmai and ethyl alcohol sake, this story in the Japan Times will interest you.

In the face of sagging sales of the traditional Japanese wine, master brewer Hanako Kudo has brought her family's sake brewery back to life by returning to the traditional rice-based recipe. She and her father, Mikio (seen at work), make traditional "junmai" at the family business, Maizuru Shuzo Co., in Yokote, an operation that has been in existence since 1918.

The big difference between their Tabito brand sake and what most competitors make is that she adds no ethyl alcohol to the mix. That additive was something that came into vogue during and after World War II because of a rice shortage, and even when times improved the practice continued because it was conducive to making larger batches.

Overall, sake sales have dipped as consumers in Japan and abroad developed a preference for other alcoholic drinks, including beer, wine and "shochu" distilled spirits. However, the junmai niche held strong. Thus, the Tabito rebound.

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