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Daishichi is a distinguished sake brewery in the castle town of Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, with a history of over 250 years. Founded in 1752, the brewery has been managed by the Ota family over ten generations, and proudly applies traditional methods and modern technology to produce superior sake.

Daishichi is the leading brewery among only a few breweries, which still use the traditional kimoto method for sake production. Developed in the early Edo Period (17th century), the kimoto method is more time and labor intensive than modern production methods, but it results in a product with more character.

Striving for the perfect taste, Daishichi is not simply using old methods. The brewery is also applying and researching the advantages of modern technologies, including a newly developed rice polishing technique, for which Daishichi has been awarded by the national and prefectural governments.

Major steps of sake production

Simply put, sake is brewed by 1) turning rice starch into sugar using a mold called koji and then 2) fermenting the sugar into alcohol using yeast. In more detail:

Polishing the rice

A rice grain consist of oils and proteins in its outer layers and starch in its center. For sake production, only the starch is desired, while the oil and proteins in the outer layers have a bad effect on the taste of the end product and should be removed.More than 50% of the grain is polished away in case of first class rice wines.Daishichi has developed the award winning "Super Flat Rice Polishing Technique", which removes more of the unwanted outer layers of the rice grain, while minimizing the amount of starch wasted.

Steaming the rice

The polished rice is then washed, soaked and steamed. At Daishichi, the steaming process is done in the traditional way, using a giant "koshiki" pot over a large kettle rather than a modern steaming machine, as this gives the rice a better consistency.

Creating koji

Koji is a mold, which plays an essential role in the production of sake. It is used for the cultivation of sake yeast and for the fermentation of rice starch into sugar.Koji is cultivated by sprinkling koji spores onto steamed rice and letting it grow in hot and humid rooms for about two days.Subtle temperature changes are applied to produce different koji cultures, which again give the sake different flavors.

Creating the yeast

In this process, steamed rice, water and koji are mixed together into the so called starter mash (moto). The yeast, which will later be used to turn the sugar into alcohol, is cultivated in this mash.While many breweries use modern methods and chemicals to speed up this process to less than two weeks, Daishichi applies the more labor intensive, traditional kimoto method, which takes about four weeks, but results in a higher quality yeast.

The main brewing process

More steamed rice, water from the local well and koji are added to the starter mash to create the main mash (moromi).The main brewing process takes about four weeks, with the koji turning the rice starch into sugar and the yeast fermenting the sugar into alcohol.While Daishichi is using steel tanks for most of its sake production these days, a small amount of rice wine is also produced with a wooden tank.

Pressing and filtering

Using modern machines, the mash is pressed and filtered into the clear rice wine, leaving behind rice lees (kasu). Unfiltered, cloudy sake (nigori-zake) is also found on Daishichi's product list.

Aging

Most types of sake are stored for about half a year to smoothen out their tastes. Daishichi stores their sake for about one year before shipping them out.

Visiting the Daishichi Brewery

Daishichi welcomes visitors in small groups (of up to six) with advance reservations between 9:00 and 17:00 from Monday to Friday except on national holidays and during company holidays. Please note that tours of the brewing facilities are offered only between April and September (outside the brewing season) and are held in Japanese. Tastings and the showing of an introductory video in English and Japanese is available to visitors around the year. Prices of tastings are 1,500 yen for a flagship selection and 3,500 yen for a premium selection. For reservations, please contact Daishichi at least two days before your planned visit:

Phone: 0243-23-0007
Fax: 0243-23-0008
E-mail: info@daishichi.com