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Sake Sommelier

Each Can of Sake Brings Hope

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Suisen Shuzo / SakeOne

The release of KIBO (“Hope”) sake by Japan’s Suisen Shuzo and America’s SakeOne will mark several significant achievements for Japan’s Iwate Prefecture. It is a delicious junmai sake available in a can, which is not only made with locally sourced ingredients, but also crafted with traditional handmade tools. And, perhaps most importantly, it signifies the almost impossible resurrection of a company that was nearly erased after the devastating tsunami of March 11, 2011. Suisen Shuzo, located in Rikuzentakata, lost seven employees and its entire facility that day. If Rikuzentakata sounds familiar to you, it may be because after the tsunami, only a lone 87-foot tall pine tree stood alone among the ruins of the city. This ‘Miracle Pine Tree’ is memorialized as a permanent sculpture and cited as a symbol of perseverance and survival. KIBO sake now joins it as a fellow symbol of determination and renewal. KIBO honors the memory of the tragedy with its thoughtful composition. The flavor is both assertive and clean. When cold, even straight out of the can, the mouth feel is so crisp that you might imagine that you’ve just dipped your can into a pristine river of sake. It can be heated too – if you place the can into a simmering pot of water, you can have one of the best winter chill remedies flowing down your thankful gullet in just a few minutes. The long journey to develop this sake is no less impressive. After the devastation, the 67-year-old sake maker had to find a new place to set up operations, which was kindly donated by a rival brewery nearby. After three years of blazing a path back to its former glory, the facility was rebuilt close to its original location, including even the instruments the brewers utilize to create their sake. A chance meeting between Suisen Shuzo and SakeOne in 2013 bore a new partnership and the opportunity for this new sake, developed for and available only in the United States. KIBO serves as an opportunity for sake enthusiasts around the world to become familiar with a respected brewery and region of Japan that are ready to begin their next act.

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Suisen Shuzo
1-1 Oishi, Takata-cho, Rikuzentakata, Iwate, JAPAN
TEL: +81-192-47-4130 | suisenshuzo.jp (Japanese only)

SakeOne
820 Elm St., Forest Grove, Oregon 97116 | www.sakeone.com

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3 things you should know about Suisen Shuzo

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The foundation of the bold flavor of KIBO sake comes from the local rice and water. Enthusiasts should try to pair it with traditional Japanese drinking food, such as scallops, abalone, oysters, or with foods with similar flavor profiles. But we also think you should bring some to a BBQ once the warm weather arrives.

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Every aspect of the production of KIBO sake is handled inhouse and using traditional methods. As mentioned, even the tools used to make the sake are made by the employees. This accounts for the exceptional quality control and obsessive attention to detail. And all sake brewers will confirm that great sake can’t be made with machines and assembly lines.

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Volunteer organizations, like the U.S.’s All Hands (pictured here with the staff of Suisen Shuzo), were pivotal in the recovery months after the Tsunami. KIBO, in part, is dedicated to the hard work of these organizations. Generosity does beget rewards. Very delicious rewards.