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Making the popular label ”Hiroki”-  ”Hiroki Shuzo Honten”

Making the popular label
”Hiroki”- ”Hiroki Shuzo Honten”

DATA
Hiroki Shuzo Honten
3574 Ichinakanibanko, Aizubange, Kawanuma District, Fukushima

Sake people line up for

On the day of the interview, we were heading towards Hiroki Shuzo Honten and saw a long line in front of a nearby ”sake” store. Surprised to see such a long line, we were told that it was a line to buy ”sake” from Hiroki Shuzo Honten. We had never seen people line up in front of a ”sake” shop before. People were lining up to purchase ”Hiroki Tokubetsu Junmai Namazume”. Hiroki Shuzo Honten is located along the Echigo-kaido road which connects Aizubangemachi and Niigata, and their first began serving sake to people who traveled along the road. They have been making ”Izumikawa” a popular local ”sake”.

Competing with a community based ”sake”

The ”sake” that has national acclaim is ”Hiroki”. They sell both standard and limited labels, but what they all have in common is the refreshing, clean, mellow, and classy taste with depth.
”If we are going to make ”sake”, we want to be able to compete in the same field as the Major League in baseball or Serie A in soccer.” says the 9th generation brew master, Kenji Hiroki. To achieve this, they use Yamada Nishiki rice. However, Yamada Nishiki rice is used as ”koji” rice, and as ”kake” rice, local Gohyakumangoku rice is used. This is because they want to be able to compete with true ”sake” from Fukushima. ”Since you take advantage of the local climate when making ”sake”, it makes sense to use local rice, Gohyakumangoku. It’s similar to how you would root for the local soccer team.”

As part of the ”sake” brewing process, Hiroki Shuzo Honten has set up a preparation tank that can be chilled. They also handle all the preparation or ”shikomi” on-site, so that they have complete control of the temperature. They have strict standards because even if the same ingredients are handled in the same manner, the temperature can affect the balance of ”umami” (good taste) and ”zatsumi” (unpleasant flavor).

Wanting to create a ”sake” that brings comfort

”Hiroki” is the culmination of Kenji’s desire and subsequent attempt to create a special ”sake”. ”Droplets of joy. That was the image. But in the beginning, my mother used to hand draw the labels, so it was hard work.” he said laughing. ”What kind of ”sake” will you be making from now?” Nakata asked. The response was ””Sake” that makes brings comfort.”

”Actually, I also like the warm ”sake” that my father used to drink at the ”sake” stand. When a businessman makes a mistake at work, if he drinks a really good ”sake”, he might think ‘everyone does such a fine job…’ But if he drinks our ”sake”, I want him to think, ‘this ”sake” is just plain. I guess it’s okay to be plain.” I want to make the kind of ”sake” that makes people feel reassured.”
That is an ”easy going sake” which has a different flavor from the sophisticated ”sake” that is made under strict temperature control. On numerous occasions during our travels, we observed how the degree of thought and effort that goes into the brewing process can greatly affect how the ”sake” turns out. It will be exciting to see what kind of ”sake” is created in the future.

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