Continuing to evolve in appreciation for the support – ”Suminoe Shuzo”

Continuing to evolve in appreciation for the support
- ”Suminoe Shuzo”

One of the leading breweries in Ishinomaki

Suminoe Shuzo is a brewery located in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. The production volume is about 800 ”koku”, but it is a famous brewery, known to ”sake” enthusiasts. The signature label is ”Suminoe”. It is loved for its rich and elegant ”umami” taste, that comes from bringing out the full potential of rice.
It was founded in 1845, some 180 years ago. They used to deliver ”sake” making rice to a brewery, but later acquired the business. Their main business was wholesale of seafood and grains, and ”sake” making was just a side business. However, at the time of the third successor, a big Tsunami hit the coast of Sanriku in 1928, and the wholesale business was devastated. Since then, ”sake” making became their main business. 85 years has passed since then. The present Suminoe is loved for its honest ”sake” making.

Using the five senses to make ”sake”, not data

When Nakata visited the brewery, they were in the middle of a process called ”shinseki”. ”Shinseki” refers to steeping the rice in water so that the rice absorbs water. The amount of water absorbed in the rice has a great impact on later steps, including the final taste of the ”sake”. It requires a very delicate decision. They refer to data from the previous year as well as for the current year. However, ”the honest ”sake” making” of Suminoe Shuzo does not end there. They never skip the process of checking by ”human eyes”. Yasunori Sawaguchi told us about it.

”You can calculate that so many kilos of rice should be steeped for so many minutes and the result is such and such percentage, and so on. But we never depend on figures. We alway look, eat, touch and smell. We make with the human senses. Of course we record data every year, but we never depend on the figures alone. We think that human power and human senses are absolutely necessary in the end.”
You may call it intuition, but the intuition accumulated over the years is not just intuition but power. It is important to inherit it, and pass on to the next generation.

We want to make customers happy by evolving more.

When tasting, Nakata mentioned;
”When I taste different types of ”sake”, I can tell the difference and understand what my preferences are. Once I’m aware of my preferences, it’s easier to know what to order at restaurants.”
”That’s right. ”Sake” has a variety of tastes. Maybe not as much as wine, but the taste of rice adds variety to the taste of ”sake”. I am glad when people notice the difference.”
The rice is the same, but the taste varies. It is indeed not a industrial product created by figures and data.

Things that have changed, those that have not

When we talked about the foundation of the brewery, he mentioned the Tsunami. Suminoe Shuzo was no exception to have been damaged devastatingly by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Not only the Tsunami from the sea, but water also gushed from nearby Kitakami River. Almost all the machines were ruined, and they could not press the ”sake”.
”Was there a change in ”sake” making after the quake? Did the quality of water change, for example?” Nakata asked, and Sawaguchi replied ”there is no change in the technology.”
”But”, he continued, ” there was a great change in how we feel about ”sake” making. Many people sent support from all over the country. They gave us courage. What we can do is to provide great quality in appreciation of the support. I felt that very strongly.” He said that it was his aim to make customers happy by continuing to evolve.


Suminoe Shuzo Kabushikigaisha
8-43 Sengoku-cho, Ishinomaki-shi, Miyagi