In the UK, sake is experiencing something of a revolution through the likes of places like Moto and Kanpai Brewery in the South of England and The Sparrows in the North. Distributors are also leading the charge for getting nihonshu into the hands of the masses, with London Sake being at the forefront of the conversation.
With an ever-growing and diverse portfolio of sake and shochu to choose from, London Sake is a brand that should be on the list of sake fans across the UK and beyond.
When people look back on being in lockdown, there’s going to be a lot of conflicting emotions. From my perspective, one of the positive things is being able to have more time to pursue interests and new goals. When I look back on lockdown, it’ll be with the knowledge that I used that time to become a certified sake sommelier.
Japanese sake was the kind of hobby that took me completely by surprise. It made its home inside my head and took me down a rabbit hole that led to a certification that fills me with pride and enjoyment for the future. Here’s what it’s like to become a sake sommelier during lockdown.
When it comes to selling sake in the West, there’s a lot of debate about how best to present it to an audience who’re unfamiliar with it. From my own personal experience, I initially found it hard to categorise what sake is. The kanji symbols were intimidating, the brewing process was a mystery and the comparisons to wine left me feeling really confused!
To help make sake easier to understand, certain businesses have taken to working with breweries in Japan to rebrand their drinks and make them more accessible to a western audience. This phenomenon has become known as ‘white-labelled’ sake, in which a business will purchase the sake from a brewery and change it in some way.
What’s important to consider is the method in which this is carried out. Transparent brands will clearly indicate who the producer is, while others may not be so forthcoming. It’s a tricky landscape to navigate.
Let’s take a look at a few of the brands who’re repurposing nihonshu and putting the breweries they work with at the heart of the conversation.
The world of sake is one of constant experimentation and versatility. Breweries with centuries of experience create products that demonstrate their sake making skills, and one brewery that’s particularly innovative in Hayashi Honten in Gifu Prefecture.
This is evident in the brewery’s Golden Amber junmai koshu, a complex drink full of wonderful contradictions.
Drink consumers are always looking for the next big thing, the next trend that will come along and transform the industry with new flavours and experiences. I believe the new frontier lies in sake and shochu. Both categories are becoming increasingly known in the western market through the tireless efforts of educators, ambassadors, retailers, restaurateurs and enthusiasts.
The world of sake and shochu is exciting and innovative, with many passionate people linked by a love for what they do. This passion was on full display at the Sake Future Summit 2020, which brought together sake professionals from across the globe for a dialogue on how sake can take over the world.