Yamaguchi Sake in the Wild

One interesting thing I’m noticing lately about the general Yamaguchi sake boom (this is the only prefecture in Japan where sake sales have gone up every year for the last 11 years) is that local people are taking more notice of these great Yamaguchi brews, too. It’s not just Dassai, either. I’m seeing shops advertising Gangi, Harada and more popping up all over these days.

The other night I went for a drink with an old friend at a local izakaya (kind of a Japanese pub thing) I hadn’t been to in three or four years. The last time I’d gone they had two sakes on the menu: Hot and cold. (In other words, just some generic Gekkeikan or Shochikubai). But not anymore!

The wall was decorated with articles about local kura, and advertising a truly great selection. They had Abu no Tsuru, Yachiyo’s Room, Gangi daiginjo, and even a few premium sakes from northern Japan like Denshu.

Premium sake ahoy!

Why do I think this matters? Because it’s new! Because it means that customers are wanting great sake, and that’s good news for local brewers for sure. This izakaya is a popular one for younger crowds, too, so it indicates some future for the market.

The friend I was with liked sake himself, but didn’t really know any of the brands advertised, either, so these pictures gave me a chance to go into what makes something like Room or Abu no Tsuru great. He ended the night a new fan of Room, and more interested in the Yamaguchi premium sake boom. Win!

What’s more, we later hit the karaoke box upstairs from the izakaya and even there they had Gangi, Harada, Nakashimaya and other local premium labels on the regular menu. It really feels like sake is making headway. And that makes me feel good!

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