Tsuchida sake brewery is situated in Gunma prefecture, which is famous for the Kusatsu Onsen (regarded as one of the top three onsens in Japan), as well as the world heritage site of Tomioka silk mill in 1907.
Due to rezoning in its original location, the brewery was required to relocate in 1994. For this reason, Tsuchida sake brewery sought a suitable location where they could access enough pure water for their brewing needs. They tried digging for water resources in various potential locations, and after 20 failed attempts, finally selected the current site.
The current CEO is Yuji Tsuchida, a sixth generation member of the Tsuchida brewing family. He previously had no intention of taking over the brewery once he had inherited it. However, when he saw the process of brewing in his twenties, he decided to take over the business and started to learn sake brewing.
Since Tsuchida sake brewery was famous for its high-quality sake with lower kasubuai (remaining rice following sake production), he pursued and perfected its methods to achieve even better quality sake than Tsuchida brewery had previously managed to produce.
One example of Tsuchida’s commitment to quality was when he ignored the advice of the tax bureau, which is in charge of the sake industry, when they suggested squeezing the batches of rice more heavily. If moromi is squeezed gently, the liquid (sake) becomes softer and smoother, but at the same time, this method leaves considerable waste and is not considered economical. However, their policy is “quality first”, so they declined to increase efficiency at the expense of quality.
There are several other ways Tsuchida ensures the highest quality production of sake. First of all, rice is steamed in a smaller steamer called a “koshiki”. He wanted to avoid using a big steamer because he wanted to achieve leveled steamed rice for the purpose of good quality koji .
The method of production is somewhat similar to wine making, but smaller equipment is used so it requires more work, bringing about a subtle, delicate result.
Secondly, Tsuchida uses a specific method to achieve good koji. Since the quality of koji has a significant affect on the end quality, all sake breweries take extreme care in its production.
Koji produces both amylase for saccharification and protease for dissolving protein into amino acid.The amino acid adds umami (savory taste), but too much of it produces an uncomfortably heavy taste. (That being said, there are some sake breweries that stick to the umami-driven style).
Tsuchida sake brewery developed their own method to reach what they call the “devil temperature” (33℃-37℃), creating protease. As a result, their sake has a pure, smooth and sophisticated taste.They are confident in their new sakes, Yamahai and Jyunmai Dai Ginjo.(see 9 categories of sake )
He is currently trying to use sake making as a means of creating a greater bond within families.Here in Japan, we used to celebrate seasonal events by drinking sake at family gatherings. However this custom has been fading out in recent times because of busy modern lifestyles. Owing to these changes, he would like to bring the custom back again with his beautiful sake. He believes good sake can create a happy, relaxing atmosphere, leading to closer relationships amongst families.
His current challenge is to create sake with his father and his son. The sake made with three generations is the first step to achieve his goal.