Organic Sake, with love from the forest!

Sake is the good ‘ol Japanese alcoholic beverage which is brewed using polished rice, mineral water from the beautiful artisan springs and the koji-kin (enzyme secreting fungus). While sake is commonly referred to as the “Japanese Wine”, the process for fermenting sake is akin to that of beer- starch is converted into sugar which then ferments into alcohol.

As per the oldest written records, the roots of sake can be traced all the way back to the Nara Period (AD 710-794). Back in the day, different lands had unique brewing techniques which were eventually perfected and updated by exploring the techniques from their neighboring lands. Explorers and Ambassadors from Europe (Especially the Dutch travellers) brought this art of brewing to Europe in the late 18th century. And almost three centuries later, we can be sure of the fact that humanity’s  love for sake never ceases to exist!

While brewing the sake is an art- several events in recent history did harm this traditional practice to a great extent. Several historic breweries were on the verge of losing their brewing heritage but luckily many realised this threat just in time and started working towards preserving this world-renowned art of brewing sake. 

The Nagai sake brewery is one such brewery which produces organic sake.

Yes, it is truly organic! Just two hours outside of Tokyo, lies the Gunma prefecture which houses the Nagai sake brewery that is famous for its organic sake. 

Mineral Water is one of the main ingredients that goes into making sake- and breweries will go a long way to find the purest source. The Nagai sake brewery hit the jackpot after its owner purchased some mountains housing a flowing artesian spring with pure mineral water which is ideal for brewing sake. 

If you wish to be a part of a sake tasting tour here, you’ll be happy to know the speciality of this tour- you are encouraged to drink the sake in a forest! Yes, you read it right! You don’t just get the sake, you also get to see the stream from where the mineral water was sourced from for making the very sake that you’re drinking. Imagine, sitting on a rock near a spring that carries the ever-fresh mineral water from this nearby glacier- and enjoying your glass of sake with the magnificent view! 

You are first offered a glass of water- straight off the spring! You can literally taste the minerals present in this pure water. Critiques would say that the water is “gentle and refreshing!” And then you are offered the prized sake, which feels even more refreshing in the forest!

Enjoying this sake in the forest is a different feeling altogether. This is the moment when you truly get to reconnect with nature- and indulge in the savoury flavours that are specifically crafted to express the mountains and the forests. 

One such prized sake is Junmai Daiginjo- it’s an elegant sake that expresses the pureness and natural beauty of Mt. Tanigawadake, which is located in the same prefecture and is listed among the 100 famous mountains of Japan. This craggy, rugged mountain inspired the sake masters here to create this special brew of the Junmai Daiginjo with pure rice and koji rice.

While sourcing this prized sake can be difficult in India, it is definitely worth the effort- bonus points if you can enjoy it in a forest! 

– Madhura Joshi

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All the images are a courtesy of 


Definition of Sake-

History of Sake- 

History of the brewery- 

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