Sake Spotlight — Tamano Hikari
One of our favourite sake labels here, learn more about Tamano Hikari Brewery and their well-loved sakes for the last hundred years.
Tamano Hikari Brewery
Born in 1673 in the historical region of Fushimi, Tamano Hikari dedicated hundreds of years to sake brewing. With care and passion, they continued to produce the best sake, striving to make each year better than the last.
Known as a premium sake producer, they were the first to revive junmai in 1964. During the Second World War, sake manufacturers added distilled alcohol to sake because of the rice shortage. The addition of alcohol to sake increases volume and hence profits. This practice continued even after the war, and today, around 80% of sake on the market has added alcohol. However, Tamano Hikari believes that this centuries-old tradition of making sake, the junmai way, is the way to achieve the true taste of sake. This is why, to this day, Tamano Hikari brews only junmai sakes and is one of the handfuls of breweries dedicated to the art of junmai brewing.
They focus on quality ingredients such as careful selection of rice, fine groundwater, and carefully crafted koji.
Their commitment to the selection of perfect rice is extraordinary. Tamano Hikari uses a few types of quality rice, including:
- Bizen-Omachi rice, a rare variety regarded as one of the best rice to make sake
- Yamada-Nishiki which is known as "yokozunna" (master) of sake rice
- Premium Iwai sake rice from Kyoto
Every spring, rice is carefully selected, harvested and inspected to determine the ratios of protein and moisture to produce quality sake Tamano Hikari is known for.
Fushimi, Kyoto is blessed with quality groundwater that is used in Tamano Hikari's sake brewing. Water is fundamental in sake making as it is used for almost every step, from the washing of the sake rice, steaming the sake to creating the yeast starter. Water used here comes from Momoyama Hills. It is also said that centuries ago the legendary warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi used the same water for his tea ceremonies.
The use of koji mold to make koji rice is one of the most important processes in making sake and it is entirely done by hand at Tamano Hikari brewery. This process can only be done by toji chief brewers as it takes years of experience and intuition to craft the koji needed. Koji is a living thing and it is lovingly nurtured and grown in the koji cultivating room. After 2 days, it begins to develop a sweet chestnut-like aroma, signaling that the koji rice is ready for sake making.
Tamano Hikari Miyama-Nishiki Junmai Daiginjyo Sake
Miyama-Nishiki Junmai Daiginjyo Sake 720ml
$99 (U.P. $129)
This luxurious Kyoto sake uses Miyama-Nishiki rice from Shiga prefecture. The farmers use innovative methods to cultivate these Miyama-Nishiki rice with organic fertilizers and music in hopes of producing premium rice. Subsequently, the rice is used to brew the sake and produces a fine aroma with slight bitterness for a well balanced but complex palate. Complement well with Japanese food (sushi, sashimi, tempura), Western food, seafood (lobster, crab leg). Best served chilled.
Tamano Hikari Bizen-Omachi Junmai Daiginjyo Sake
Available in 300ml ($32), 720ml ($68) and 1800ml ($164)
The Tamano Hikari Bizen Omachi Junmai Daiginjyo Sake is made with Omachi rice, a rare variety of rice considered the best to make sake. It has a slightly dry and clear taste, with a fruity aroma and deep flavor. The sake pairs well with Japanese sushi and tempura, as well as French and Italian dishes.
Tamano Hikari 94 Junmai Ginjyo Sake & 29 Junmai Rice Shochu
L: 94 Kushi Junmai Ginjyo Sake 720ml ($75)
R: 29 Junmai Rice Shochu 720ml ($75)
The Tamano Hikari 29 Rice Shochu is made from rice and Japanese cedar, which makes it go well with meat dishes. The aroma from the cedar is blended well with the refreshing flavour of rice, leaving an impression behind on those who have tried it.
Tamano Hikari Plum and Yuzu Liqueuer
L: Yuzu Liqueur 300ml ($20)
R: Plum Umeshu 300ml ($20)
The Tamano Hikari Yuzu-shu is Tamano Hikari Sake Brewery’s first-ever yuzu liqueur to be produced. Its low alcohol content boasts an alluring sweetness and a gentle bite that will excite your taste buds. Best served chilled.
The Tamano Hikari Umeshu is produced by Kyoto’s Tamano Hikari Sake Brewery. Its sweet taste conjures a rich bouquet and a robust flavour. The beverage is best enjoyed chilled and paired with light dishes.
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