Sip long-lasting sake soon.
With a focus on sustainable and ethical products, the Japanese liquor known as nihonshu in Japan, or simply sake abroad, really has a lot to offer. For centuries, it’s been an all-natural, additive-free, vegan alcoholic beverage in its standard form, made with three simple ingredients: rice, water, and yeast.
That alone would make sake a great choice for those with environmental or ethical concerns, but one brewery in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture still thinks more can be done. Kobe Shushinkan is a prestigious sake brewery that dates back to 1751, has won numerous awards and even had its sake served at the Nobel Prize ceremony.
Now they’re embarking on a bold new campaign to make their entire business environmentally sustainable, starting with the world’s first zero-carbon sake, Fukuju Junmaishu Eco Zero.
This version of Kobe Shushinkan’s famous Fukuju sake brand achieves this in four different ways. First, they replaced their power sources with Kobe’s non-fossil electricity sources and carbon-neutral liquefied natural gas to run the brew. They have also taken many measures around the brewery to reduce overall electricity consumption, such as LED lighting.
In the brewing process itself, instead of grinding rice grains to 70% as they normally do, Kobe Shushinkan will only grind them to 80%. By grinding fewer grains of rice, less energy is used, and as a result, the sake tastes more complex and earthy than the very fruity flavors of sake made from heavily ground rice such as daiginjo.
Normally, in brewing sake, something called “shubo” is used. Literally translating to “mother of sake”, this mass of steamed rice is used to cultivate the yeast needed to ferment sake. However, since the steaming process consumes energy, this step has been eliminated in the production of Eco Zero. In place, dry yeast is used to reduce environmental load and speed up the whole brewing process.
▼ A quick and very informative video showing the shubo being prepared
Finally, the bottles themselves do not have labels which require additional materials and energy to produce. Instead, lead-free ink is applied directly to the bottle by electrostatic coating. These bottles will grace liquor shelves starting Oct. 20 for an expected retail price of around 1,500 yen (US$11) per 720-milliliter (24-ounce) bottle.
Eco Zero is just the first step Kobe Shushinkan’s Sustainable Journey initiative in which they aim to have full emissions-free brewing by 2030 and expand it to all aspects of their supply chain by 2050, including agriculture and distribution in the 15 countries where Fukuju sake is sold. They also plan to share these techniques with other breweries so the whole industry can move together in a greener direction.
In addition to adhering to basic social responsibility, Kobe Shushinkan also has a vested interest in curbing climate change and protecting the environment. The brewing of sake is deeply connected to the water and earth of the local environment in which it is made. So, for them and for all of us, preserving the environment also means preserving good sake.
Top Image: Pakutaso
Insert image: PR Times
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