The mild weather of the Seto Inland Sea has bestowed plentiful rice and water on the land of Banshu. The skilled Master Brewer painstakingly blends these rich blessings by hand. This unaffected simplicity is the soul of Yaegaki.
Yamada-nishiki is now recognized and praised worldwide as “The King of Brewing Rice.” It was first produced in 1936, in a special agricultural development area of Hyogo Prefecture. The ear of this rice is longer than that of regular table rice, and the individual grains larger, making Yamada-nishiki vulnerable to the effects of wind and rain. Furthermore, to nurture the white core that is the main characteristic of this strain of rice, Yamada-nishiki needs to be grown in a field where there is a significant temperature swing from day to night. This requirement makes cultivating Yamada-nishiki successfully very difficult. The land best suited for growing Yamada-nishiki rice is on the northern side of the Rokko mountain range in Hyogo Prefecture. In that region lies the Ozawa area of Kato-shi. With the cooperation of rice producers in this area, Yaegaki is in constant pursuit of brewing higher and higher quality sake, year after year.
Founded in 1666, Yaegaki has continued to brew sake in this area for 350 years, blessed with a quality of water like no other in the land. That water, which the Master Brewer checks carefully every night, is soft water that flows from the famous spring of “Senju no Mizu,” allowing Yaegaki to make the most delicate, pure, and gentle sake. Yaegaki sake has long been—and will continue to be—sustained by the bounty of the mountains, the forests, and the land.
Yaegaki’s brewery continues to make sake using traditional brewing methods in the winter months. Mornings start early for sake brewers. With the chilled air stinging their skin, craftsmen sacrifice their comfort in the freezing cold and use the warmth of their hands to make the koji. The koji is alive. Craftsmen prepare the koji while carefully observing its appearance. The koji “speaks” to the craftsmen day and night. The craftsmen enfold the koji in just the right temperature to ensure proper fermentation, using their well-honed skills and experience to respond to the koji as if they were raising their own children. Deep within the quiet and the cold, the yeast bubbles with life. The attributes of Yaegaki sake—its full aroma and clear, crisp taste—are yielded by virtue of daily attention and craftsmanship.