The Sake Basics:
Rice, Water, Brewmaster
The three elements that determine the quality of the sake.
Sake is brewed from short grain rice and water under strict oversight of a sake brewmaster. Not a single element can be compromised when brewing premium quality sake.
Rice is to sake what grapes are to wine. Over the centuries the Japanese have cultivated a special kind of rice perfect for brewing sake. This kind of rice is called "saka mai" in Japanese, and is very different from the kind of rice that people eat. The grain of saka mai is bigger than the regular rice grain. Sake-making rice is improved to contain less protein and fat which might spoil the quality of the sake.
Ozeki has made special arrangements with local rice farmers to grow rice. At the brewing facility, the rice is milled by a unique Japanese rice milling machine to polish the rice grains from 25% up to 70%, depending on the type of sake product.
More than 80% of sake is made from water. Naturally, the quality of water determines the quality of sake. In fact, the Japanese regions where the quality and taste of water is highly praised are often famous for excellent sake products.
Ozeki chose to brew sake in the central coast region of California, where the crystal clear water from the Sierra Nevada mountains is abundant. The water contains a well balanced amount of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
In addition, the brewing facility at Ozeki is equipped with the same special water filtering system that the sake brewers use in Japan. It assures the quality of pure water best fit for sake making.
Ozeki Sake Brewmaster (Toji)
Historically the farmers in the deep mountains and fishermen brewed sake to make a living during the winter season in Japan. These men gradually formed artisanal sake making groups all over the country. The master or leader of these sake brewers is called a "toji". The tradition and knowledge of sake brewing has been passed on from generation to generation by toji for centuries.
Sadly, this ancient Japanese tradition is disappearing fast due to the modern brewing technology that has replaced the old manual method of sake making. However, no matter how advanced the technology has become, nothing can match the knowledge, skills and intuition of the seasoned toji.
Thus, Ozeki has an award-winning toji to oversee every brewing process. He carefully examines the rice conditions, determines the rate of rice polishing, checks the fermentation process, constantly monitors the temperature of the sake mash and the brewing facility. The result is undoubtedly the finest quality sake that you can enjoy with every sip right here in the U.S.