If we make good sake, people will support it.
That’s been their motto since Kokuryu was founded in 1804 in the mountains of Fukui. It’s an ancient land, nestled between snowy peaks and the Sea of Japan, not far from the main Soto Zen temple Eihei-ji. From a long tradition of sake brewing, Kokuryu today stands as one of the region’s few survivors. They grow their own rice. They seek out special yeasts. And they strive for the best in brewing and maturation, hand-crafting only the highest-caliber sakes in small batches.
Pure water is vital to the clear, mellow flavor of Kokuryu’s ginjo sakes. Their water starts as snow on the high reaches of the Hakusan mountains, percolates slowly through rocky layers and becomes the subterranean flow of the Kuzuryu—the River of the Nine-Headed Dragon—every drop filtered by nature.
As for their rice, they select and polish only the highest grades of sake rice, chief among them the prized Yamadanishiki from Hyogo prefecture’s Tojo region and Fukui’s own Gohyakumangoku rice. Premium rice is a critical part of their quest to brew the best sake, the essence of Kokuryu’s brewing practice.
In Fukui, fresh seafood like Echizen or Tanner crab exemplifies dishes in which the flavor of the ingredient shines through. As a regional brewery, their goal for Kokuryu sakes is to highlight the flavors of these ingredients. That means sakes with good balance and delicate profiles that don’t overpower food. With this goal in mind, brewery chairman Masato Mizuno journeyed to France to seek inspiration in methods of wine maturation, which he then applied to sake. His discoveries led to the creation of Kokuryu’s ideal premium sakes, rich with elegant flavor and a silky feel.
Rice and water are gifts of nature that, with tender care and the passage of time to deepen flavors, brewers transform into exceptional sake. This is, after all, a luxurious drink born of time and gifts from the worlds of nature and man.