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The season of “Shinshu” (mid-December to March) and sake containing “Hiyaoroshi” made in autumn & winter (October 1st – Mid December) is known for the shipping time of sake, but in this few years, “Natsuzake” is taking root as a sake in summer. You can enjoy it from June 1st to the end of August, and the summery of sake quality and bottle labels that conscious of summer ingredients has been expressed. In the first half of this project, we interviewed Mr. Sachio Inmaru, who is the general manager of “Aji no Machidaya” (liquor store) and the in-process worker of this “summer sake”, about what he thinks about sake, the history of making the market of summer sake etc., and in the second half, we interviewed Mr. Yuichi Tanaka, who is the owner of a michelin starred restaurant “Shun no Aji Ichi”, about the piring of Natsuzake with the summer dishes.

*Hiyaoroshi : It’s a sake that sterilize only once at the beginning of Spring, mature it for about half a year, and then bottled in Autumn. The reason why it’s called “Hiyaoroshi” is the combination of “Hiya” (which means raw) and ”Orosu” (which means shipping).

 

Contents
1. “Highly motivated work” of a long-established liquor store to steer designer (brewery)
2. The “Smooth” taste Sake which contributes to the industry’s boost
3. The point of pairing “Natsuzake” enjoying with summer foods

 

 

Aji no Machidaya
General Manager
Mr. Sachio Inmaru

Born in Kumamoto Prefecture in 1962. After he graduated high school, he deepen knowledge of the apparel industry for 3 years at Bunka Fashion College in Shinjuku, Tokyo.After that, while working as an apparel related saleman for about 6 years, a search of the sake begins in the hobby idea of own triggered by having been impressed with Ehime’s high rarity sake “Umenishiki” selected as one of the drinks for dinner. While going around many kinds of liquor store, he came to “Aji no Machidaya” as a customer, and then started working at there for part-time job at the timing of career change. From there, he noticied how interesting liquor stores are, and get the career of this road for 20 years. Now he works as a general manager and engage in planning and events to raise the sake industry.

“Highly motivated work” of a long-established liquor store to steer designer (brewery)

 

―――I would like to ask you a little before going to the main subject, but it is a quite unique career from apparel to liquor store, why did you choose the way to work at a liquor store?

 

When I was in the designer brand, sometimes I gone to support sales etc., but even if the customer does not suit the brand that the designer made, I had to tell him that I’m looking for a job. That is because there is only one designer. But in the case of drinking, if you think that each of the brewing houses is a designer, you can recommend a drink of alcohol quality suitable for the customer who came in our shop, so it was best that you do not have to tell a lie. So I could talk to the brewer master as a designer. I intended as a temporary job when I start working at “Aji no Machidaya” as a part-time job, but I changed my thought that I would buckle down and sell the designer’s sake.

Also, it is one of the reasons that the experience of apparel made use of there since I was also designing a label from the way. Some customers select by label prior to the liquid inside the bottle. However, at the time there was a lot of designs that only wrote “Junmai sake”, so I needed a catchy label. I currently have around 40 kinds of cup-sake at our shop, but I also suggest design from the label design.

 

―――Currently you are working as “General Manager”, but what kind of job is it specifically?

 

I’m checking everything general such as sales and purchasing of “Aji no Machidaya” as a general manager. Now I have many works such as plannings. If there is no new-style sake in the market, we create it while talking to the brewer. As most of the methodology of improving the taste of sake is nearly exhausted, so the main effort is how to raise the accuracy. The current sake market accounts for about 70% of the major sake company. So my current job is to create sake with small brewery that customers can be satisfied. Now I have a relationship with about 100 master brewers, but most of them are making sake without understanding the market of sake, so I steer them and raise the sake industry.

 

The “Smooth” taste Sake which contributes to the industry’s boost

 

―――Was “Natsuzake” also planned as a raise for Sake industry?

 

I planned in 2005 with the theme “Summer sake”. Shouchu was a big boom at this time. So the sales of sake in that summer was weak, and I believed the stereotype that “sake – drinks for winter” is still strong. At that time, while the market of shochu rapidly pushed the summer market, suddenly I thought that there is no Japanese sake specializing in summer in the market. I wish I had built sake from scratch that was specialized in summer sake here. So I started contacting various brewers to imagine the ingredients of the summer and to make sake specializing in the summer.

 

―――How many breweries had joined at the beginning of “Summer sake” plan?

 

The “Shikomi” started in 2006 with the cooperation of 17 brewers. Regarding the taste of sake, I don’t say such things as Yamada Nishiki, what percentage of rice milling percentage, do not say that at all, I only tell “Express sake that imagined the summer anyway by the skill of everyone.” After that, because it is alcohol that sells for a short time span to some extent, we are talking about trying a new alcohol quality that can not be done with standard items. However, in order to create a firm market, we also do tasting with the store staff before the summer sake announcement and on those tastes good are for sale. It’s a project that I am doing seriously.

 

 

〈The brewery that challenged “Shikomi” in 2006〉

Houhai · Aomori, Murayu · Niigata, Uyouikkon · Yamagata, Fukuiwai · Chiba, Ishizuchi · Ehime, Raifuku · Ibaraki, Saika · Wakayama, Kenkonichi · Miyagi, Toyobijin · Yamaguchi,
Hakurakusei · Miyagi, Soukuu · Kyoto, Takakiya · Oita, Taka · Yamaguchi, Hayaseura · Fukui, Shinomine · Nara, Tenmei · Fukushima, Chouchin · Aichi

*In 2007, Nabeshima · Saga, Manrei · Saga, Furousen · Shiga, Yamawa · Miyagi also joined, and about 40 breweries have done “Shikomi” in 2017.

 

 

――― What is the difference between Natsuzake and other sake brands?

 

First of all, considering what kind of sake will be considered delicious in the hot summer, the first sake launched was a refreshing-texture “summer wine”, but now, low-alcohol, foam type, high acidity …various variations of how to taste and drink, such as stuff, cloudy rice wine, cold-body-friendly summer sake, increased. However, the most important thing as “summer sake” is to create a special drink that customers will not feel tired to drink, and never get used to during talking to the breweries. You can imagine a very glass of “summer sake”, that is completely match with the summer season, representing this very season.

 

――― When does the Shikomi start?

 

It seems that there are bringing in the latter half of the brewing time of sake. Because it is not a sake to be matured, it is like feeling to suggest at the time of summer, leaving freshness made by the latter half.

 

――― 12 years have past since the “Summer sake” project, please tell us your future prospects.

 

At the beginning of the project, we decided to start selling on June 1 and suggested it to be sold during the summer, but in recent years it has begun to appear on the market around May as it spreads. This is false start to me. As “Aji no Machidaya” I’d like to propose it with a seasonal feeling, so this year only those breweries who start their sale in Jule be allowed to participate in the project. Without as a strict regulation, sakes being sold in the market can only be those have no seasonal sense at all.

 

Also, I do not want to be in a market that tightens up or sells if it comes out. I would like to bring out highly accurate things while tasting each other together seriously. I think that causes that get bored are chronically created somewhat and nobody checks the taste and goes away. Since there was a market at that moment, there was only one thing to do with each other with tension. Cooking is also the same. I think that the taste will fall if the tension of the producer goes down, so I think that the customer will move away. We worked so hard to develop out such a market, we will continue to incorporate ourselves with the awareness of maintaining quality while maintaining it.

 

Aji no Machidaya

Established in Showa 27th (1952), a liquor store featuring concept “liquor close to food”. It is also famous for having appeared in gourmet manga “Umashimbo”. About 60% of the alcoholic liquor stocked at the shop is sake, 40% is shochu and other liqueurs. Regarding sake, they purchase 3000 labels annually. There are travelers from overseas visit, and service in English is available too.

The point of pairing “Natsuzake” with summer ingredients

 

Manufactured in consideration of compatibility with the food ingredients of the summer, various kinds of “Natsuzake” are now on sale from many breweries. When we say summer ingredients, there are many kinds of summer vegetables and fish and such as sweetfish and pike conger, but what is really good to taste alcohol with what perspective? In the second half of this project, we interviewed Mr. Yuichi Tanaka, who is the owner of ”Shun no Aji Ichi” about the point of compatibility with the dishes using summer ingredients and “Natsuzake”.

 

 

Shun no Aji Ichi
Mr. Yuichi Tanaka

Born in Nagano in 1965. His parents had been running a farm that allowed him tasting numerous kinds of vegetable in childhood. Since age of 16 he went to a cookery school in Shizuoka and went to Tokyo 2 years later. He then sharpened his skills by working in Ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurant) located in Ginza for over ten years. In 1997 he opened “Shun no Aji Ichi” in Harajuku, Tokyo as a restaurant “where you can have seasonal foods”. Three years later, he moved the restaurant to Roppongi, Tokyo and 2017 is the 20th anniversary of it.

 

 

Oyster × “Daina”

 


Express cool summer by putting a big oyster on the dish with ice covered. At the interview, the oysters from Tokushima prefecture are said to have good and stable quality over the last few years. It is rich, filling and the aftertaste of saltiness and mineral remains.

 

Daina Natsu no sake Hotaru

Point”Mineral and dry, discreet acid”

Combined refreshing and light tasting sake with oyster. Originally ‘Hattan Nishiki’ from Hiroshima prefecture, such as “Sengen” is compatible, but this time the theme is ”Natsuzake”, so I chose “Daina” which has a similar taste to it.

 

 

Grilled Wagyu sirloin × “Chouchin SUMMER JUN”

 

Roast and slice wagyu beef sirloin lightly and add Japanese ginger, slice of Indian taro, grated maple radish, and enjoy the texture and fragrance. Eat it by pouring homemade ponzu sauce.

 

Chouchin SUMMER JUN

Point”Fat and acid”

In this dish, summer ingredients were used for accent of texture, and I chose sake focusing on Wagyu. “Chouchin SUMMER JUN” has rich flavor and have a good compatibility with fat. A firm acid will shed the fat from Wagyu beef.

 

Nabe cuisine of pike conger and brasenia × “Murayuu”

 

Early summer’s classic nabe cuisine of “Shun no Aji Ichi” using pike conger, brasenia, Chinese cabbage. From the owner’s desire to boil the brasenia and enjoy the texture, brasenia to use is purchased with the size large and slimy strong.

 

“Murayuu summer’s namazake”

Point“The umami flavor of soup stock and rice”

I chose “Murayuu summer’s namazake” by focusing on the light taste of pike conger and the soup stocked with the umami of ingredients. This Sake has umami which is felt when eating rice, it is a soft taste and a kind of ”Natsuzake” which does not get tired from drinking. Besides nabe cuisine, it is compatible with various ingredients.

 


〈The access to”Shun no Aji Ichi”
Toei Ōedo Line Roppongi Station 5 minutes on foot

One Michelin starred Japanese restaurant in Roppongi, Tokyo. You can enjoy fresh vegetables sent from Nagano, where is Mr. Tanaka’s home, and Random cuisine incorporating seasonal ingredients. Approximately 10 kinds of sake selected carefully according to seasonal cuisine. They also make suggestions on how to drink with differences in temperature zones and various glasses.

Restaurant Data
Store name: Shun no Aji Ichi
Address: Shimizu Building 1F 7-10-30 Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: 18:30-23:30
Closed: Sunday, national holiday

“Shun no Aji Ichi” is hard to reserve but if you complete registering as a member of Pocket Concierge, you will be able to recieve information on various restaurants.

 

【Interview・Writing】Naohisa Shiraishi

【Photography】Kimihro

Exterior photos of ”Aji no Machidaya” (provided by Aji no Machidaya)

Exterior photos of ”Shun no Aji Ichi” (photographed by the editorial department of Pocket Concierge)

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