The reason that the Prefecture of Niigata produces the finest sake in the world can be summed up in one word - SNOW.
Certainly the unique climate of Niigata is one of the determining factors in creating a tradition of making the highest quality sake. But the tradition unveils itself in many other ways. Recently Niigata was awarded Geographical Indication Status!
These are: Most Niigata sake breweries put their efforts into producing handcrafted sake of incredible quality. They leave mass production to other Prefectures. This is reflected in the fact that Niigata is by no means the largest sake-producing Prefecture in Japan. It produces less than 8% of the sake made in Japan. Several Prefectures produce much higher volume. Niigata puts its energy into producing high quality, handcrafted sake. In fact, Niigata Prefecture ranks #2 in Specially Designated Sake production at 23,299kl (2017BY).
In Niigata City, one will find the Niigata Sake Research Institute. Niigata is the only Prefecture in Japan to have such a research-based organization - whose only mission is to enhance the quality and variety of Niigata sake. Niigata and the NSRI (Niigata Sake Research Institute), lead the world in quality-oriented sake producing innovations. They are known for implementing new techniques and technologies as well as new materials ahead of all other prefectures.
(e.g. - advanced charcoal filtering, rice milling machines, stainless steel tanks, snow storage, new ways of inoculating koji-kin onto rice, developing new varieties of sake brewing rice, and the use of temperature control in the fermentation process.
The Institute has recently developed a new sake rice variety called “Koshi Tanrei” through a joint project with the Niigata Agricultural Research Institute. Koshi Tanrei is expected to become the flagship sake rice for sake producers in Niigata, particularly for their Daiginjo and Ginjo grade sakes.
(Learn more about sake rice).
“Echigo Toji”, one of the most illustrious toji guilds. Native to the south-central coast of Niigata they are the second largest toji guild in Japan. Ranked in the top three dominant groups in the world. Their experience and skills reflect the natural environment and unique ingredients that lend to the prefectures well known style – tanrei karakuchi.
Innovative – leaders in development and research Niigata producers are known for implementing new techniques and technologies as well as new materials ahead of all other prefectures like: advanced charcoal filtering, rice milling machines and enamel lined stainless-steel tanks, and snow storage. They also worked to develop sake brewing rice that contribute to the regionality and identity of Niigata Sake Gohayakumangoku (1938/1957) & Koshi Tanrei (1989/2004) ===Tanrei Karakuchi profile!