Niigata Sake Selections (NSS) was set up in 2004 by Ataru Kobayashi to bring the concept of regionality in sake into the US by importing premium sake exclusively from breweries within the Niigata[nee- gut-ah] prefecture.
NSS launched in 2005 with 18 sakes made by 11 breweries - all artfully hand selected by Ataru Kobayashi. Today NSS represents 15 breweries, 50+ sakes, in 25 total States and is 3 person team (Mayumi, Kauai, and Carrie).
Founder of Niigata Sake Selections
Ataru Kobayashi, hand-picked 18 sakes made by 11 producers for the first launch in 2005. The focus of the fist Niigata Sake Selections is on outstanding characteristics of Niigata sake known as “Tanrei Karakuchi” or very refined, light and dry. The Niigata Sake Selections is distributed in most of major markets in the US (25 states as of March 2022).
Ataru moved into the United States in 2002 with his wife Mayumi. His family has been making sake in Niigata since 1916. Before starting up Niigata Sake Selections in New York, he had spent 20 years in international chemical business with Shell Chemicals and International Specialty Products. He earned Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from Hokkaido University.
National Sales Manager
JSA Diploma, Advanced Sake Professional, SSI Sake + Shochu Advisor, Sake Scholar, WSET L3
Carrie applies her expertise and passion for sake by working with 15 different US distributors in 25 states to introduce consumers to premium Japanese Sake through education, consultation, and administration of unique events.
Carrie’s desire to explore the vast world of alcoholic beverages has led her to successfully complete several certifications. In her passion for sake she is now one of a handful of members worldwide to hold the J.S.A. Diploma issued by Japan Sommelier Association and one of the first 100 individuals to earn the Certified Advanced Sake Professional (ASP) title, awarded by The Sake Education Council (SEC) in 2008. In 2013 Carrie became certified by the Sake Service Institute as a Sake Advisor; in 2018 passed the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level 3 award in Sake with distinction. This year, 2021, she achieved certification from the Sake Scholar Course.
Mr. Shinichi Kanai started with Niigata Sake Selections in January 6th, 2023.
Mr. Kanai moved into the United States in 2006. He grew up surrounded by sakes from Niigata because his parents ran a liquor store (a sake shop) in Niigata before he was born. Before joining Niigata Sake Selections in New York, he spent 16 years in the Alcoholic Beverage industry with JFC International and Kikusui Sake USA. Mr. Kanai is an SSI Senior Sake Sommelier + Shochu Adviser.