The Nobel Prize celebrates its 117th anniversary on December 10th. Awards have been given since 1901 for those who have done outstanding work in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. (The economics prize was added in 1969.) After the ceremony, prize winners can relax and enjoy themselves at the dinner party and Nobel NightCap.
Since 2008, sake has been part of the menu at these social events for the seven times that a Japanese-related prize has been awarded.
The sake is brewed in the Nada area of Hyogo prefecture, famous for its sake production. Annually, Hyogo prefecture produces 1,700 tons of Yamadanishiki sake rice, which is 58% of national production volume. National yield of Yamadanishiki accounts for 35% of all sake rice nationwide annually (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 2017). Hyogo prefecture produces 17 million cases (at 8.64L per case) of sake annually, approximately 27% of national sake production (source: Nikkan jozo sangyo sokuho, February 8, 2017). Nada is well-known for its Miyamizu water which is suitable for sake production, as well as the severe winter wind from the Rokkou mountain range helps sake production by enabling more rapid cooling of steamed rice and keeping the tank cool, ideal for Ginjo production. (In addition, the cooler temperatures help prevent spoilage.) For these reasons, it has been known as a sake production area since the beginning of 17 century.
The sake offered to Nobel winners at the Nobel dinner party and NightCap is Fukuju Junmai Ginjo, brewed by Kobeshushinkan Sake Brewery (established in 1751). This sake was evaluated for its appeal to sake beginners, which many of the Nobel guests would be, as well as for its wine-like clean aroma, smooth texture and refreshing acidity.
American economist Alvin E. Roth won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2012. He enjoyed the sake at the social events so much that he visited Shushinkan in 2014. SEJ had an interview with Manager of Kobeshushinkan, Masakazu Minatomoto, who accompanied Mr Roth on his visit. Mr Minatomoto said of Mr Roth “He enjoyed not only Fukuju Junmai Ginjo, but Fukuju Junmai and Awasaki [sparkling junmai sake].”
The number of those who experience sake and have shown a subsequent interest increased since renowned official international events (such as the Nobel dinner party and NightCap) and world famous restaurants have started offering sake.
We believe that this shows the promise of a brilliant future for sake.