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Ayana’s Sake Brewery News Nov. 2020
礼奈の酒蔵巡り 令和2年11月

Umenoyado Sake Brewery

梅乃宿酒造

The morning of the Umenoyado Sake Brewery starts early. The owner, Kayo Yoshida, sends her children to school and heads for the brewery. The moment she puts on her happi (法被) coat, her face becomes the fifth-generation owner of the brewery from a two children’s mother. I witnessed it when I visited her. I was standing in the air that was, despite autumn, crisp and cool like her craftsmanship and discipline, filled with a mellow sweet aroma of sake.

In the time of the modernization, sake brewing has also become more automated. However, the brewery stubbornly does not change the traditional handcrafted method. It is the way they have been operating and manufacturing day-to-day for over 120 years. That is the reason why the owner of the brewery, Mrs. Yoshida, comes there so early in the morning to secure sufficient time for all-day routine. She has been advancing with the belief - their artisanship and kojimalt that brings natural chemical reaction in fermentation can produce rich and complex umami 旨味 flavor in sake.

Umenoyado Sake Brewery spins history with uncompromising sake making. But on top of that, they are also taking on innovative challenges in search of new possibilities and values ​​for sake. The philosophy behind is to harmonize pursuing the ultimate deliciousness of sake and conveying the unique enjoyment of sake to gain new target market. This is also an effort to introduce art of making sake to young generation whose parents had turned away from sake in the rise of Western food culture for the last 50 years. "Aragoshi" あらごし series, their new concept - a sake liqueur with abundant amount of selected domestic fresh fruit puree (or pulps), is one of the tactics. Usually, alcohol by volume (ABV or alc/vol) of average sake is 16 percent. The “Aragoshi” cocktail sake lowered the ABV by 8 percent (8 percent ABV as a result) so that people can enjoy drinking at a casual cocktail party. The "Aragoshi" series can be used not only for drinking, but also for complementing ice cream, making a fruity “kakigoriかき氷 shaved ice, and so on. It overturns the conventional perspective of sake with the new texture, flavor, and temperature.

Furthermore, inheriting Japanese culture with sake drinks in the seasonal events such as toso 屠蘇 (herb infused sake) for the New Year, also shirozake 白酒 (cloudy sake liqueur) for the Peach Festival, the brewery innovates the new, accepting the old, as their mission to practice onkochishin 温故知新 (innovating a path, accepting tradition) every single day.

As the fifth generation, Mrs. Yoshida wishes to bring happiness to all the people around Umenoyado and their sake. It is from Omi merchants' philosophy of sanpou yoshi 三方良し (three-way satisfaction of the customer, the vendor, and society - all doing well). After the interview, I realized that passing on the legacy of Umenoyado Sake Brewery is a way to preserve and protect Japanese sake culture to the next generation.

 

(translated by Youji Iwakura)

 

Original Article (Japanese)

   酒蔵の朝は早い。当主の吉田さんは、2人の子供を学校に送り出し、酒蔵に向かう。法被を羽織った瞬間、母親から5代目当主の顔にキリッと変わる。私が訪れた秋でさえ、身が引き締まるようなひんやりとした蔵は、まろやかな日本酒の香りに包まれていた。 

   近代化により、酒造りもオートメーション化が進んできた。しかしながら、梅乃宿は元来の製法を頑なに変えず、全てを手作業でこなす。120年変わらず、毎日やってきた方法だ。これが、当主、吉田佳代が朝早くから酒蔵に入る理由である。梅乃宿は、人と麹の発酵による自然の化学反応こそが、旨味をたっぷりと蓄えた懐の深い酒ができると信じて歩んできた。  

   妥協しない酒造りで、歴史を紡いでいく梅乃宿。しかしながら、それだけではなく、日本酒の新たな可能性と価値を求めて、革新的な挑戦も行っている。そのコンセプトは、日本酒の美味しさを追求しつつ、日本酒独自の楽しさを発信していくことである。これは欧米の食文化台頭により、日本酒離れが進む若者に対して、日本酒のスピリッツを伝えて行く取り組みでもある。そのひとつが「あらごし」シリーズだ。日本酒をベースにしながら、贅沢に果実を使用したフルーツリキュールは、海外の人々がパーティでワインを飲むような感覚で、日本のお酒を楽しめるように工夫している。「あらごし」シリーズは、飲むだけでなく、アイスクリームにかけたり、かき氷にしたり、これまでのお酒の概念を覆す味わい方ができる。  

   とは言え、日本にはまだまだ清酒に関わる文化も息づいている。例えば、お正月のお屠蘇、桃の節句の白酒などが最たるものだ。 こうした文化を継承しつつ、変わらなきを受け入れ、新しきを創り出す、正に温故知新を会社の理念として日々邁進している。  

   5代目当主の願いは、梅乃宿に関わる、全ての人々に幸せを届けたい。これは近江商人の三方よしの哲学にも通じている。こうした酒蔵が後世に継承されていくことこそが、日本の伝統が守られる術なのだと、取材を通し感じた。

   中山 礼奈