What kind of sake brand is 越乃寒梅 Koshinokanbai?

08/16/2022

What is the origin of “phantom sake"? Get closer to the history and charm of the super famous sake “Koshinokanbai"!

Among various types of sake, Let us introduce the famous brand “Koshinokanbai".

Perhaps if you are a sake lover, you may have heard of it once. From the younger generation’s point of view, it may be an image of traditional sake. This Koshinokanbai was once called “phantom sake" and is indispensable for talking about the history of sake in recent years, which sparked the local sake industry.

This time, we will introduce its charm along with the historical story of Koshinokanbai.

Contents

What  is Koshinokanbai?

Introduction about the Ishimoto Sake Brewery

What is Koshinokanbai?

Synonymous with light and dry

Speaking of Koshinokanbai, “Niigata sake". Whereas sake in Niigata, pertains to “light and dry".

What kind of taste does it offer? To simply put it, the aroma and taste are low. It’s sharp and has a smooth aftertaste, so let’s describe it as a drink similar to drinking water.

Koshinokanbai became a success in the 1970s. Actually, before this, sweet sake was touted for a while after the war, and it seems that there was a time when sales were slugging. Even so, Koshinokanbai, which was referred to its dryness, became the center of the dry boom later.

Furthermore, we would like to unravel the history of Koshinokanbai.

Leader of the local sake success

The fact that Koshinokanbai became known as a phantom sake is related to the “local sake" success of the 1970s. Until then, sake was mainly a nationwide brand made by major Nada and Fushimi brands.

In the 1970s, the Japanese National Railways conducted a campaign called Discover Japan, which aimed to increase the number of individual tourists. As a result, interest was focused on the charm of the region, and became the limelight known as “local sake". This so-called “local sake" success, and other local brands such as Koshinokanbai in Niigata, Ura Kasumi in Miyagi, and Umenishiki in Ehime are becoming more popular than major nationwide brands.

By the way, Koshinokanbai was called “phantom sake" by Hisako Sasaki, the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Sake", who pioneered the local sake boom. Her love for sake was published in “Weekly Asahi" in 1963 and became widely known. Koshinokanbai became difficult to obtain, and at one point it was distributed at a price multiple times higher than usual. It’s now in general circulation, but if you still know a store that sells it for higher than the normal price, you should be careful.

Koshinokanbai’s hometown

The hometown of Koshinokanbai is Kamedago, which is located in the center of Niigata City. It is a land suitable for sake brewing, with abundant supply of water from the Agano River and a low temperature environment blessed with winter snow.

This area is also a famous production place for plum blossoms, and in early spring, the plum blossoms is called “Fujigoro Ume", which endures the cold and gives off a dignified beauty, are in full bloom. This plum blossom is the origin of the name Koshinokanbai. 

Koshinokanbai is brewed in a beautiful village which is suitable for sake brewing. The taste of this sake will remind you of the beautiful water system of Kamedago, the harsh winter snow scene, and the pretty plum blossoms that blooms in early spring. 

About Ishimoto Sake Brewery

Ishimoto Sake Brewery started in the 40th year of the Meiji era with the idea of ​​"making sake that will please the people of Kameda who works hard at farming." The brewery has gradually grown and has been attracting attention at numerous fairs.

However, in the Showa era, the days of hardship were excessive that the production of sake was temporarily impossible due to the effects of the war. Even after the end of the war, the harsh situation continues, such as the shortage of rice and restrictions on the rice polishing rate. Even so, he polished the rice to be as bright and white, stating that “If you can only make a small amount, I want to make sake that pleases you."

Eventually, the period of high economic growth began, and sake was mass-produced. It was an era when sweets were preferred and if they were made, they would sell well, but Ishimoto Sake Brewery continued to make “a sharp and tasty sake" that was commensurate with the scale of the brewery.

Then we visited the local sake sucess mentioned above. Koshinokanbai is a representative success of sake, but in order to make delicious sake and continue to be “Koshinokanbai", we will maintain the production volume that suits our height.

That attitude hasn’t changed until now. Ishimoto Sake Brewery is steadily striving a step-by-step progress to make delicious sake that suits the consumer’s taste.

Sake brewing that sticks to people, rice, and skills

Ishimoto Sake Brewery aims to make a sake that can be drank without noticing and tasting the original taste of rice.

They have carefully scrutinized the “rice" and used Yamada Nishiki from Shijimi-cho, Miki City, Hyogo Prefecture, and Gohyakumangoku from Agakita, Niigata Prefecture. With a feeling of gratitude for the production area and the enthusiasm to “make absolutely delicious sake," the rice is polished and brewed slowly. Whereas by aging until the taste of rice brought out its flavor to the maximum, Koshinokanbai is completed.

At Ishimoto Sake Brewery, the connection between “people" is also important. At noon, they all sat down as the meals are prepared in the kitchen and strive to share the taste of the brewery and our thoughts on sake brewing. In addition to the kuramoto and brewers, each person involved in sake brewing, down to the person in charge of bottling and shipping, clerical work and sales, a dedicated gardener, and the kitchen meal unite their hearts and Koshinokanbai is made under “Wa". It is possible.

In addition, Ishimoto Sake Brewery’s sake brewing “technique" is expressed by the words “bold, meticulous, and careful."

The creator will do his best with the materials recognized as the best and prepare in an environment with the best condition. Ishimoto Sake Brewery is working on sake brewing by sharpening all its nerves.