I have had the pleasure of enjoying many Akita Sakes, and recently caught up with Akiko Ito, Overseas Sales and PR Executive for Akita Seishu Brewery, makers of the well-regarded Kariho Brand of sake. Ito-san was kind enough to be interviewed and answered some questions about Akita and Kariho Sake.
Q: How did you get involved in the sake industry and what is your job in the brewery?
Ito-san: My great-grand father, my grand father and my father worked in this company, Akita Seishu. I was born next to the brewery, so Sake making is very familiar for me.
Now I’m in charge of overseas PR & Sales.
Q: I have noticed some people feel Akita sake is very special. What do you think Makes Akita Sake special in general? Climate? people? ingredients?
Ito-san: Climate, it is very important. Akita prefecture is renowned as a source of high quality water and fine rice, both natural prerequisites for production of fine sake.
And we have the special Toji group which is called “Sannai Toji”. The character of their style is”low temperature and long-term fermentation “which means they do the fermentation lower temperature than general Japanese method.
Q: For you, what makes a sake good? do you have a favorite kariho sake?
Ito-san:This is my opinion, the most important point if the matching with foods.
My favorite Kariho sake is Junmai ginjo “Rokusyu” and Junmai “Namahage”.
Kariho Junmai Ginjo “Rokusyu” is very delicate sake which is match with light dishes, of course Sashimi, Tomato and mozallera cheese salad and Tofu-base dishes.
Kariho Junmai Yamahai “Namahage” is made “Yamahai shikomi”. Dray and full body. I recommend this type of sake with main-dish. For example, Yakitori, Salmon with cream sauce…
Q: What do you think would surprise American people the most if they saw Sake brewing in person?
Ito-san: The Sake’s flavor and taste are influenced by koji. Koji plays a part similar to malts in beer brewing.
Koji making is the heart of Sake brewing and hardest working process, because the brewers often have to wake up over night to control the temperature.
Q: Are you optimistic about the future of sake in the United States?
Ito-san: Yes, Sake will accept as same as wine for general public in near future.
Thank you so much, Ito-san, for taking the time for an UrbanSake.com Interview! I am glad to hear about your optimism in regards to the popularity of Sake in the US. I’m with you! Thanks also for the tips on pairing! I’ll give it a try and let you know. Ito-san, I hope you have a chance to visit the U.S. again soon!