As we approach the IWC Sake Awards Ceremony 2022, we would like to shine a spotlight on Dewazakura Sake Brewery from Yamagata Prefecture.
Founded in 1892, Dewazakura has been famous in the sake industry for a long time. In 1980, they were one of the first to start selling aromatic ginjo sake, when it was only being brewed for competitions and not for sale. Since then, they have been on the cutting edge of sake brewing.
Mr Masumi Nakano, the current president of the brewery is very involved in the sake industry. Famously approachable and jovial, he wears many hats. He is the President for the Japan Sake and Shochu Brewing Association and also the President of Yamagata Sake Brewers Association.
I have personally visited their Sake Brewery twice, and am always amazed at their philosophy of constant improvement. The brewery also has an internship program where they train the next generation of sake brewers. The next generation owners of famous breweries like Kitaya and Uchigasaki have previously trained at the brewery.
Dewazakura has always done well in sake competitions, both domestically and internationally. They have done especially well in IWC Sake, winning countless gold medals, 13 Trophy sakes, and 2 best of show Champion Sakes. In 2016, they were awarded the brewery of the decade. In 2022, they are in the running for Champion Sake and is 1 of the 3 finalists for Brewery Of The Year.
Another honorary mention would be KEIGETSU, TOSA BREWERY from Kochi Prefecture!
I met Mr Muneki Matsumoto on my first business trip to Japan in 2014. Back then, he had just taken over as president of his family sake brewery, in rural Kochi prefecture, which mostly brewed table sake for the local community. He was a successful businessman in Tokyo, and wanted to bring up the reputation and success of his family business which has been around since 1877.
He invested heavily in new equipment and expanded the brewery. Enthusiastically picking up on newly researched sake rice types and yeast strains from Kochi Prefecture, he began making modern and premium sake. With tireless promotions overseas, he began winning many awards for his modern approach towards sake production, promotion and PR. He also has many whimsical origin stories behind his different sakes, and also sings a mean KTV rendition of Beyond’s Hai Kuo Tian Kong.
This year, Keigetsu has won 3 gold medals and a trophy in IWC Sake 2022. They are also in the running as 1 of the 3 contenders for Brewery Of The Year. Good luck to them!