I am a Production Manager.
Good sake is created only when you trust the five human senses and your equipment. I have been brewing sake for almost 20 years at Umenoyado. I spent my first 3 years studying each step of the process of rice milling, rice rinsing, rice steaming, koji making, yeast-mash making, yeast making and moromi (fermentation process) to gain comprehensive skills and knowledge of the whole process.
I consider rice rinsing/steaming and koji making to be the most important part of them all because it is when the rice first comes into contact with water. The rate of water absorption totally differs depending on the type of rice, the quality of the year’s rice, and the weather. Water is one of the important elements in sake brewing. Because the amount of moisture contained in rice grains greatly affects the next step in the process, this process is also the tensest moment for me.
Likening it to a person, rice just after milling is in a pure state like a newborn baby. Rinsing is like a rite of baptism, so I address this process with passion as if I were putting a soul into the rice that will then start life as sake.
Koji making is also a very important part of the process. Our koji is made entirely by hand. Koji is made by sprinkling the microorganism of koji mold onto steamed rice. As microorganisms are living things, how they grow changes depending on the type of rice used, the hardness of the rice, and the temperature and humidity. Growing too fast is not good, and ideal balance is important.
Although the advancement of mechanical technology has improved temperature management and data analysis, what finally judges the quality of koji is the human hand. In the koji making process, I think the fusion of modern mechanical technology and my experience creates the best koji. Koji making is a complicated and delicate process, but it is not an exaggeration to say that you can make good sake if you can make good koji.
The advantage of our sake brewing at Umenoyado is that advanced mechanical technology and the five human senses are combined. Although I am in charge of traditional sake, I am happy that we have created a new type of sake culture with Haikara.