Tsuki no Katsura is a Japanese Sake brewery located in the Fushimi ward of Kyoto. They are a local, 14 generation owned small-business that has been brewing sake since 1675. Their shop is well known for preserving the authenticity of sake by following the traditional brewing methods. In order to retain the genuineness of sake, they have been using the same saking making, techniques, and practices for the entirety of their operation.
Preserving Traditional Brewing Methods
One of their most unique points is that they only make sake during the wintertime. Traditionally, sake is prepared during the winter months because the low temperature and cold weather provide for excellent brewing-grounds. Sake that is brewed in warmer conditions lead the fermentation process of the alcohol to speed up, causing the sake to spoil faster. Tsuki no Katsura strongly believes that their wintertime only sake-producing practice should be continued, no matter how much the world continues to modernize. While many other present-day sake breweries have implemented cold sake brewing processes by using technology, the traditions behind sake making are lost. At the end of the day, Tsuki no Katsura’s mission is to provide the most genuine Japanese sake to their customers. By following traditional methods of brewing, their end products not only hold authenticity, but they are undoubtedly tasty as well.
Only The Highest Quality Ingredients
Of course, the ingredients used to make sake are also very important. Pure rice sake is made from rice, water and a special rice malt known as koji in Japanese. Making sure that these ingredients are of as high quality is crucial. Tsuki no Katsura fully understands this, and only uses premium varieties and grades of rice for their products. As shown above, two varieties of rice that they commonly use are Yamada Nishiki rice and Iwai rice. The Yamada Nishiki variety is known as the crème de la crème of sake rice, and Iwai is a local Kyoto variety of sake rice which is also highly regarded.
Tsuki no Katsura is well known for producing a variety of junmai grade sake products, which requires the rice to be highly polished. As you can see, the entire outer layer and bran of the rice must be removed in order to produce a high quality junmai sake, leaving only a small, but starchy portion of the rice grain behind. Depending on the type of rice, up to 60% of its outer layer is poliched off. The inner center of the rice, also known as "shinpaku" is where all of the starch is stored. The starch is what gives sake its unique taste and aroma. Each variety of sake rice has it's own unique flavor profile, which is clearly reflected in the end sake product.
The Reliance On Real People
The reliance on real people that Tsuki no Katsura has in the sake making process is another point that makes this brewery so unique. They do not use machines in any part of their brewing process. In fact, they don’t even have reliance on electricity or gas for cooking the sake rice - they use a real fire. They have tried to keep their sake brewing process as close to as it was when the company started in 1675. Every step of the sake making process is done by hand, by their small and local staff. This extra step and attention to detail only adds to the high quality value and authenticity of Tsuki no Katsura’s sake. The containers that the sake are stored in are handmade stone and ceramic containers. They do not use widely manufactured containers for sake-storage. Somehow, some way, Tsuki no Katsura has figured out how to go above and beyond in sake making, by keeping and valuing tradition sake making and never forgetting their mission.