Visiting a Sake Brewing Factory maybe not be on your bucket list, but it was on mine! Even though I do not drink alcohol, yet I felt it was important for me to atleast know one of the most popular Japanese traditional beverage such as Sake that is locally known as “Nihon-shu” or “Seishu”.
This is a bit awkward because even though I cannot drink alcohol, I could still smell the flavour of alcohol soon after I entered the factory. To be honest it made me dizzy, or maybe I was drunk??!! For some people the smell emanating from the brewery was mesmerizing.
I observed how the rice was prepared to a finer version for sake! Yes, to prepare a good sake, the staff peeled more than 60% of the rice skin to produce a better quality of rice which consists of rich nutrients suitable for brewing sake.
Sake is best when it is made in winter, because of the taste and the freshness of sake is influenced by the cold weather and fresh water. Here are some fun-facts that I got to know on my visit to the sake factory.
- Sake is made in several different sizes of barrels. The barrel size is adjusted to the size of the building. The production of sake especially, the expensive tastier ones are made in a little barrel limited to about 50 litres, but for the usual varieties the production reaches up to 54,000 litres.
- Unlike wine, sake is better to drink soon after it is prepared and doesn't require a long time to date and change flavour.
- Sake is absolutely good and enriches food when added in any kind of dish – as the factory staff stated. But this fact is proven in all the varieties of Nabe soup or any grilled beef that tastes awesome with the addition of a little sake. Alas! I just cannot eat it :D
- Sake is made from only 40% of the peeled rice with the addition of water and yeast. While the other 60% is used to make other food items such as sake manju, etc.
- In Japan, sake is known to have health benefits. It is also preservative free and gluten free (as opposed to wine which requires sulfites to increase its shelf life).
- The quality of sake can be seen from the color and transparency when poured in special sake glass which are marked at the bottom, to distinguish the different colours.
- The factory itself, is literally just 10 minutes walk from the mountain. So they use fresh water from the mountain from groundwater reservoirs dug vertically!
This sake brewing factory in Sawai is not only for enjoying the sake but also the scenery. After about 30-45 minutes of the factory tour, cross the street or just pass the tunnel to enter a beautiful garden near the river where you sip on your sake and observe the scenic beauty! Autumn is my recommended season to enjoy both the scenery and also the food here! You can experience the changing color of the leaves while listening to the gurgling sound of water from the river below without worrying about getting cold. Guessing how? Because, you can have a warm udon/ramen soup while you sip your sake and stay warm. You also can taste the sake manju here.
For me, enjoying the awesome scenery and watching people enjoying their cultural product itself was the best experience ever!!