Yukawa 16th Kuroemon Champion Sake Anniversary – 375ml

Type: Sake
Country: Japan
Region: Nagano
Rice: Miyamanishiki
Alcohol Percentage: 16.1%
Award: IWC Champion Sake

Designation: Junmai Ginjo
Polishing Ratio: 55%
Yeast Variety: #901
Style: Progressive
Tasting Notes:
With the perfect balance of deep rice-derived umami and flavour and refreshing acidity

About the Brewery:
High and deep in the lush green mountains of the old Post town of Yabuhara Juku, Nagano prefecture, at 1000 meters above sea level, Yukawa Shuzo has been steadily brewing sake for centuries. The second oldest active brewery in Nagano, established in 1650, for over 370 years the Yukawa family line has been carrying the torch for sake in one of the most difficult areas to brew.

It all began with the simple goal of catering to the demands of the travellers passing through Yubara-Juku along the Nakasendo route which connected Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo period. Regional sake breweries were considered an essential component to keeping travellers happy along their long journeys by foot or horse and were brewed to suit the flavours of the area. For Nagano, as a landlocked and mountainous region, these flavours relied on fermentation. Thus a richer sake was common.

Due to the high elevation of Yukawa Shuzo, there are many obstacles that must be overcome to get a successful batch of tasty premium sake.  Among the challenges is the low and slow boiling point which requires extra mastery for successful sake rice steaming.  Winter temperatures are extreme with an average of -18 degrees to -10 degrees which in turn makes the work much harder and less comfortable for the brewers and the yeast less active.

16th generation brewery president Naoko Yukawa, her husband and Toji (the master brewer) Shinichi have dedicated themselves to the research and development of various brewing methods to yield the best results for a sake that will capture the attention of the modern drinker. With the cold climate and elevation, the sake was once very light and lacked standout qualities on the world stage.

The power couple implemented more labour-intensive and lengthy brewing methods such as Kimoto and Yamahai to get more resilient and active yeast which in turn has led to extra flavour and uniqueness in their sake.

Kisoji, their historic brand continues to be loved by the local community and beyond. Their newest brand, 16th Kuroemon is dedicated to sake made through their efforts to innovate. The 16th Kuroemon line works to showcase the unique attributes of a wide variety of popular rice varieties.

With the environmental impact of sake brewing in mind, the Yukawas have also invested in a way to take advantage of their location and free-flowing cold mountain spring water during the inactive summer months by channelling it through the panels of their storehouse for a cooling effect, thus creating a fully naturally cooled storehouse for their sake.  This way, the same water used for brewing in the winter plays an integral role the rest of the year.

Having won the IWC Champion Sake award in the summer of 2023, the current and 16th generation of Yukawas are putting their historic brewery on the world map.  Through their vision for the future of sake brewing, they will no doubt continue to make waves in the sake world because of their open minds and dedication to the craft.