And just like that, the annual Japanese F&B extravaganza that is Oiishi Japan 2014 is regretfully over… but not without us tasting a multitude of Japanese alcoholic beverages before it ended. The trade event, which saw an expected 6,000 visitors from 16 to 18 October at Suntec Singapore, showcased all manner of Japanese products meant for the F&B industry across three exhibition halls. But for us here at Spirited Singapore, it was about alcohol – from traditional sakes and sochus to ume (Japanese plum) flavoured liqueurs and even ciders, we tried them all.
We look at some of the sake brands – and a few other alcoholic products – that were on show at Oishii Japan (distributorship status are in parenthesis):
- Azuma Rishiki 東力士 (unknown)
Azuma Rishiki by Tochigi-based Shimazaki Shuzo is best known for their aged sake which is carefully stored in a cave close to the brewery (around 130,000 bottles at one time). The sake is made with water from the nearby Naka River.
- Fukugao 福顔 (unknown)
Sanjoy, Niigata-based Fukugao Sake Brewery is a multiple year gold award winner at the National New Sake Competition for its premium daiginjo.
- Hachitsuru 八 鶴 (looking for distributor)
Made by Hachinohe Shurui Sake Brewery in Hachinohe, Aomori, which insists on using only Hanafubuki and Mutsuhomare rice varietals grown in Aomori as well as soft water from the Machebi River for the making of their sake.
- Hakutsuru 白鶴 (JFC Singapore)
Nada, Hyogo’s Hakutsuru is Japan’s top selling sake maker, its use of high-quality natural spring water and cold winters – coupled with a nearby craftman’s guild for sake brewers upon which it can tap talent – means top quality sake.
Located in the “Nada” area between Osaka and Kobe of Nishinomiya that is known for its richer flavoured sakes due to the area’s hard water known as miyamizu and to match the stronger flavours of the cuisine of the area, Hakushika was founded in 1662.
- Kenbishi 剣菱 (looking for distributor)
Kenbishi of Kinko, Hyogo blends Yamadanishiki and Aiyama – a very special sake rice only used by Kenbishi and no one else – varietals for its premium sakes. Founded in 1505, it’s the oldest sake brand in japan.
- Kiku-masamune 菊正宗 (Makato-ya)
The use of authentic Kimoto brewing method gives the sakes of Kiku-masamune Sake Brewing a dry yet smooth character. The brewery only uses Yamadanishiki sake rice in the making of its sakes.
- Kinryo 金陵 (unknown)
Kotohira, Kagawa-based Kinryo started brewing sake in 1789 and was selected as the “scared sake” for the nearby Kotohira Shrine.
- Koshi no Kanchubai 越の寒中梅 (unknown)
Located in Niigata, Niigata Meijo‘s Koshi No Kanchubai has been producing sake for 70 years, and its sakes have received major awards including the best sake award at the Kanto Regional Sake Appraisal and 13 consecutive gold medal awards at the National New Sake Appraisal.
- Nihon Sakari 日本盛 (Kirei Japanese Food Supply)
Nishinomiya-based Nihon Sakari makes the award-winning Souhana junmai ginjo that’s so good it’s served to the imperial family in Japan.
- Okunoto no Shiragiku 奥能登の白菊 (looking for distributor)
Wajima, Okunoto-based Hakuto Sake Brewery started brewing at the end of Japan’s Edo period and today has an annual production about 33,000 litres, and its 9th generation owner has won awards for his sake at Three Hokuriku Prefecture Competition 4 times in the past 5 years.
- Ozeki 大關 (Makato-ya)
Established in 1711 in Imazu, Hyogo, Ozeki Sake uses water from the Miyamizu, which flows underground from the Rokko Mountains in Nishinomiya. It is one of the largest sake breweries in the world.
- Ryusen Yaezakura 龍泉 八重桜 (looking for distributor)
Established in 1854, Iwaizumi, Iwate-based Senkin Brewery is the oldest sake brewery in the region.
- Sanran 燦爛 (unknown)
Sanran by Tonoike Sake Brewing makes a daiginjo that just won a gold award at the Japan Sake Awards 2014.
- Sasa Masamune 笹正宗 (looking for distributor)
Award-winning Kitakata, Fukushima-based Sasa Masamune was founded in 1818.
- Shiragiku 白菊 (looking for distributor)
Ishioka, Ibaraki-based Shiragiku Shuzo was founded in 1805. The small brewery employs five people.
- Shirakawago 白川郷 (Makato-ya)
Shirakawago by Miwa Shuzo in Ogaki, Gifu was founded in 1928 and employs around 19 people.
- Taiyo 大洋 (KC Premium Food)
Established in the 17th century, Taiyo Sake from Murakami, Niigata is a ten-time gold medal award winner at the National New Sake Awards, Japan’s largest and most acclaimed sake competition.
- Tsukuba 筑波 (Epicurean Nomads)
Ishiokashuzo Sake Brewing of Ishioka, Ibaraki taps superior Tsukuba groundwater and uses top quality rice grown in the foothills of Mt Tsukuba, hence the name of the sake.
But if you’re looking for other Japanese alcoholic products aside from sake, here were a few that exhibited there as well:
- Yachiyoden 八千代伝 (unknown)
Kagoshima’s Yachiyoden Shuzou grows their own sweet potatoes in the making of their Satsuma style shochu.
Kagoshima-based Nishi Sake Brewing was founded in 1845 and makes an authentic Satsuma style 宝山 brand shochu.
- Nasu Kohgen (Epicurean Nomads)
Located in the northern end of Tochigi Prefecture, Nasu Kohgen Beer is one of the lesser known yet classy and elegant craft brewers in Japan. Its Nine-Tailed Fox is a particularly impressive aged barleywine.
- Aomori Cidre (looking for distributor)
Uses high grade Fuji and Jonah Gold apples grown in Aomori in the making of its range of ciders, which ranges from dry to sweet as well as a non-alcoholic versione.
- RICÉENOIR (looking for distributor)
Made by Yushin Sake Brewery, RICÉENOIR uses ancient rice produced in Utazu-cho for fruity, low-alcohol drink.
- Zanpa 残波 (Whistler Wine & Spirits)
Zanpa makes Awamori (泡盛), a distilled alcoholic beverage indigenous to and unique to Okinawa that’s made from long grain rice.
- Saru no Mato さるのマト (unknown)
Kishu Kankan-ya 紀州柑々屋, part of Sake no Kamakura, makes a range of orange liqueurs called Kishu Kankanya made from nine different varieties of Mikan oranges.