Sake has been known since the dawn of Japanese civilisation, and probably since rice was first introduced to Japan from Asia about 2,000 years ago. It is an alcoholic beverage produced from rice in much the same way that beer is brewed from wheat and barley, but it is termed a rice wine because its alcohol content is similar to grape wines. In short, sake is brewed like a beer, but is served and enjoyed like a fine wine.
Sake has had an honoured role throughout the evolution of Japanese society. In early times, sake drinking was an integral part of celebrating the harvest and was offered to the gods when praying for peace and prosperity. Konishi, Sun Masamune’s parent company, started brewing sake in Japan in 1550 as a sideline to its herbal medicine production.
Go-Shu Australian Sake
The Brewer’s Art
Expertly brewed with all natural ingredients including the highest grade Australia medium-grain rice, the Go-Shu range of quality Australian sake is preservative free and contains no sulphites or added antioxidants.
After being polished to 70-40 per cent of its original size, the rice is washed, soaked and steamed under the watchful eyes of our experienced brewers. A special pure mould culture, Koji (aspergillus oryzae), is then added to the steamed rice and then incubated for 45-48 hours. The Koji, rice and special sake yeast are blended with ultra-pure water and the co-fermentation begins. The rice is digested by the Koji enzymes and converted into glucose, and the yeast converts the glucose to alcohol. The sake yeast greatly affects the fragrance and flavour profiles.
After 20-25 days, all of the rice has been consumed and the fermenter contains raw sake. Raw sake is about 18 per cent alcohol and is milky in appearance, due to the yeast, Koji and rice fibre suspended in the liquid. The raw sake is filtered to remove the suspended sediment and cloudiness, and the draught sake is then pasteurised and stored in tanks for 3 months to mature and mellow prior to bottling.
Kagami Biraki – Sake Ceremony
The traditional Japanese sake ceremony called “Kagami Biraki”, literally means “break open mirror”.
About 300 years ago, Tokugawa Ietsuna, the 4th Shogun, held a banquet at Edo Castle, gathering together all his people to celebrate the beginning of a new battle. He displayed a mirror and danced in front of it and then prayed for victory in the forthcoming battle ahead. This battle proved successful and victorious for Shogun Tokugawa and this was the beginning of “Kagami Biraki”.
Since sake was first produced, sake has been revered and treated as sacred as it is considered spiritually refreshing. To this day, sake is still offered and dedicated when attending a religious shrine whilst one prays for peace and prosperity.
Sun Masamune offers rental Kagami Biraki kit. This rental kit enables you to organise an authentic Kagami Biraki ceremony to smash open the lid of a large sake barrel which represents an opening to harmony and good fortune. The kit is available for opening and wedding ceremonies, sporting events, festivals and other special occasions.