Niigata, Echigo-Yuzawa Town – Brewer: Shingo Yamaguchi – Founded 1855
Shirataki Shuzo was established in 1855 with the belief that the best sake is made using the finest locally sourced ingredients. This philosophy has been passed down through seven generations—and is currently executed by Takaki Matsumoto, the Toji. The brewery is based in the town of Echigo Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture—an area renowned for its heavy snowfall, hot springs and plentiful skiing. In the spring, the snow melts to provide an abundance of clear, natural mineral water, which is a prime ingredient for sake. The melted snow passes through a coal seam when running downhill from the mountain peaks, creating a natural filtration—resulting in the soft and clean “snow melt” character the sakes are known for. The filtration process continues at the brewery, which further accentuates the taste and quality of the water. The resulting sake is easy-to-drink with a gentle texture, complex palate with a hint of sweetness, and delicate aroma. Shirataki is a modern and innovative brewery, whose brewers are constantly experimenting and creating new bottlings and sake-related products. Jozen’s style is decidedly bright, aromatic, youthful, and clean.
Echigo Yuzawa is in the Uonuma district, home to Uonuma Koshihikari, the most famous, high quality rice brand in Japan. As an hommage to the local rice, Shirataki bottles the Uonuma sakes made at a lower polish rate, showcasing the quality and flavor profile in a forward and beautifully balanced way.
The combination of high quality clear natural water and top-quality rice means that Shirataki Shuzo is based in one of the best locations in Japan for the production of sake. Shirataki Shuzo produces seasonal sake that celebrates the opening of brewing season in the fall, and sakes that represent the winter, spring, and summer months. Notably, they are well known for their fresh and lively Namazake Junmai Ginjo which can be enjoyed year-round.