Here is some information on the new Kijoshu from Miho Imada, in her own words. It is extremely limited.
Our brewery is situated in the sleepy port town of Akitsu, Hiroshima Prefecture. Historically, this region was famous for producing an abundance of skilled master brewers, known as Toji in Japanese. This earned Akitsu the reputation as “The Village of Toji”, a moniker that it still goes by to this day.
Blessed with a mild climate, and directly facing the calm waters of the Seto Inland Sea, the sake brewing credentials of this once bustling town are solidified by the efforts of its most famous resident, Miura Senzaburo. His arduous research back in the early 1800s led to the discovery of the Soft Water Brewing Method, now the foundation for the meticulous “low and slow” style of sake production better known today as Ginjo Brewing.
The techniques pioneered by Senzaburo, and those he later trained, helped pave the way for Hiroshima Sake to enjoy national recognition, and the prefecture remains today one the most prominent brewing regions in all of Japan. We here at Fukucho are fortunate to have inherited some of this rich history, and have greatly benefitted from the techniques and wisdom passed down over the generations from a long succession of Hiroshima craftspeople.
One such veteran of the Hiroshima style of brewing was our previous Toji, Yasuhiro Kiyotaka. Back in 1990, he and his team, as they did every year, brewed a batch of highly prized competition grade Daiginjo intended for the Annual Japan Sake Awards. During that time, however, Daiginjo was not yet an established segment of the domestic market. As a result, the remaining sake from these precious batches was often not available to the general public, and was enjoyed by only a select few lucky customers close to the brewery.
However, at a time when aged sake was also not in demand, we defied convention by putting some aside for future use. That sake has now spent close to three decades resting in a cool environment within our brewery waiting for its chance to shine once again. And thanks to an idea that our current Toji, Miho Imada, hit upon last year, that chance has finally arrived in the form of our latest challenge.
Despite its considerable age, when we brought it out of storage it still had incredible clarity and a radiant lustre. Recognising the potential to make something truly special, the decision was made to breathe new life into the vintage rather than simply release it as it was. Therefore, in what was a first for Fukucho, it was earmarked for use in making the rare and luxurious style Kijoshu.
What makes this style so special lies in its production – orthodox brewing calls for a process of three stage mashing, known as Sandan-Jikomi. Each stage consists of a mixture of rice, water and koji, which increases in volume with each step. Kijoshu differs in that the largest and final addition of water is omitted. In its place, sake from a previous year is added. By using vintage sake for that final addition, we have created a unique Kijoshu with a velvety texture and clear taste.
Due to the scarcity of what was in storage, Fukucho Legacy had to be limited to just 680 individually numbered bottles, each of which are personally signed by our president and Toji. Furthermore, as it is a prototype, and one that will hopefully mark the beginning of an entirely new chapter in Fukucho`s history, this first release has been denominated as 0.
We wanted labels fitting of the liquid inside the bottle. Therefore, we enlisted the help of a long established company in Hiroshima that specialises in the production of Gold Leaf Paper. A highly skilled traditional craft in itself, this beautiful paper was often used in the past to cover ornate sliding doors and folding screens.
The material that we were fortunate to receive had been made over 40 years ago, and each segment that was cut into labels now has its own unique shade depending on which direction the light hits it. By using this unique material, we have applied the same theme to the packaging as to the sake inside the bottle. The role of each respective craft from one era has been given a new one in the present day. By combining the skill and technique from two generations in this way, we hope to pay tribute to the towering legacy of past Hiroshima Toji.