At long last, on February 16th, 2007, I had my first opportunity to « properly » visit a brewery!
I met Mr. Takhiro Nagashima, onwer of Nagashima Liquor Shop in Shizuoka City and Mr. Ryuuji Mayuzumi, a hygienist at a local hospital who is also a certifed taster, at 1306 at Shizuoka Station. 40 minutes later, we got off at Kikugawa City Station.
The brewery is only 5 minutes away on foot. I got miffed when I belatedly realized that I had paased it at least 200 times when I used to teach at a local Women’s College in the same city without ever noticing it!
We found Mr.Morimoto at work, washing milled rice with water from his own well. He allowed us to taste the water… and savour it! Soft, pure water, natural water I have no recollection of. The water comes from the Oi River, which cuts the Prefecture between Fujieda City and Kakegawa City, two other great centres of prime quality sake.
Mr. Morimoto was grumbling under his thick moustache at the this year’s rice, « definitely improper for truly great sake, whatever its source! » He was washing « Goyakumangoku » ( a shizuoka stain of Yamada Nishiki) milled down to 60% in Fukuroi City. He showed us grains cracked sideways and lengthwise. I was impressed by the blunt honesty and pride of the gentleman, I can assure you!
Mr. Morimoto is a very unusual Japanese man who looks straight in your eyes when he speaks to you, does not bow, and peppers his comments with truculent jokes. He is not one you can fool around with or flatter, but if he decides that you are a person worth to confer with, he will soon offer you his gruffy friendship and share a good talk. He is not afraid to tell you what he thinks is the bare truth. Upon being asked whether he considered making Jyunmai a chore, a tendency shown by many brewers, he curtly replied that he had to make jyunmai first before mixing alcohol in, so what is the problem? 35% of the sake he brews consists of jyunmai. He brews nothing under honjyozo. Period.
Morimoto Brewery was founded about 100 years ago and adopted the name of Sayogoromo for its sake just before WWII. Hitoshi Morimoto is the 5th Generation. Unfortunately he does not have any family, and apart of occasional part-timers, he does all the brewing and bottling himself! That is about 20,000 bottles a year, using Yamada Nishiki or Goyakumangaku rice.
When I asked him about hiring an apprentice, he replied: « Would you be interested? » I laughed it off as we are exactly the same age. More soberly, he thinks it would be a good time for an apprentice to come on his own to work under his tutelage. If no-one comes, he will probably sell his Brewery, but certainly not now, nor in the near future, as he intends to brew until his last breath!
(Mssrs. Nagashima, Morimoto & Mayuzumi)
He invited us to taste a couple of his sake he was particularly proud of: an aged sake he had been maturing since 2002 and another one I cannot reveal as I sent a bottle as a quiz for Melinda!
Timothy, I promise you will be the next recipient when I visit the next Brewery!
Mr. Matsumoto follows an interesting tradition of his by producing a limited edition every year with a distinct label designed by a friend of his, a welcome addition for label collectors!
Mr. Morimoto also brews 2 « private labels »:
Kojyo for Hamasaku Liquor Shop in Hamamatsu City and Aeru No Sato for liquor shops in Kikugawa City.
Last, but not least, Mr. Nagashima, who after all had come for business, was gratified to hear Mr. Morimoto agree to his buying his sake directly from his Brewey!
439-0006 Shizuoka Ken, Kikugawa Shi, Horinouchi, 103-3