Skip to main content
Spotify for Podcasters
Sake Deep Dive

Sake Deep Dive

By Sake Deep Dive

A sake podcast for the beyond beginner!
Sake brewer Andrew Russell and sake writer/translator Jim Rion dive deep into the history and culture around Japan's national drink to bring context and insight, for when an introduction just won't cut it.
Join us every month for a tokkuri full of unfiltered sake knowledge!

Our theme song is from:
Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-n...
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0
Free Download / Stream: bit.ly/lotus-lane
Music promoted by Audio Library youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg
Available on
Apple Podcasts Logo
Castbox Logo
Google Podcasts Logo
Spotify Logo
Stitcher Logo
Currently playing episode

Yamadanishiki - The Big League

Sake Deep DiveMar 31, 2023

00:00
56:32
Shuki - Our Choko Runneth Over
May 31, 202301:06:31
 Pasteurization - Holding out for a Hiire
Apr 30, 202301:01:37
Yamadanishiki - The Big League

Yamadanishiki - The Big League

Andy and Jim climb the mountains and explore the rice fields to get to the root of the “king” of sake rice, Yamadanishiki. We look at where it came from, why it got so big, and maybe express a wee bit of skepticism about those magical Hyogo rice fields.

Vocabulary from this episode:

Koji Haze - The distribution of koji over the surface of the rice grains.

Kumamoto Kobo - The origin of Association Yeast #9, often called the “Ginjo yeast.”

Nengo - The naming of eras in Japan based on the currently reigning emperor. Now, for example, we are in the Reiwa era, preceded by Heisei, and Showa before that. 

Nishiki - Silk brocade. A word often used to denote something elegant and luxurious.

Shinpakuritsu - The rate of starchy “white heart” appearance in a batch of rice, expressed as a percentage.

Shuzokotekimai - The more official term for what we call sakamai, or rice well-suited to sake brewing.

Tankanwataribune - One of Yamadanishiki’s direct parents. “Tankan” means short stalk.

Yamadaho - Another of Yamadanishiki’s direct parents. 

Toku A chiku - One of a few areas across two cities in northern Hyogo prefecture with reputations for growing high-grade Yamadanishiki rice. They are: Kato City - Yashiro, Tojo; Miki city - Yokawa

Recommended Sake:

Andy - Kikumasamune Gokujo Tokubetsu Honjozo Chotokusen

Jim - Tatsuriki Junmai Dragon Episode 3 

Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Used under a  Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg 


Mar 31, 202356:32
Yamaguchi - From the Mountain’s Mouth

Yamaguchi - From the Mountain’s Mouth

It was inevitable. This month, Jim and Andy wander the green mountains of Jim’s adopted home of Yamaguchi Prefecture. They touch on local history, the reemergence of Yamaguchi sake, and—of course—Dassai. They might also mention Jim’s new book, Discovering Yamaguchi Sake. On sale now wherever books are sold!For more info, check the publisher’s page at: Discovering Yamaguchi Sake

Vocabulary from this episode

Fugu - blowfish or pufferfish. A specialty of Yamaguchi.

Soridaiji - the official title of Japan’s prime minister, the leader of the national government. Yamaguchi is home to more than any other prefecture in Japan.

Recommended Sake

Andy - Gokyo Josen Futsushu

Our theme music is from

Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a  Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Feb 28, 202301:20:24
Yamahai - Blurred Lines
Dec 31, 202201:09:31
Koji - Whatta Fungi

Koji - Whatta Fungi

Show Notes

In the latest Sake Deep Dive, Andy and Jim take on Japan’s national mold, Aspergillus oryzae–the lowly koji-kin. This is less a historical exploration and more a real look at the nitty gritty on this itty bitty ruler of the sake world.

CORRECTION: During the episode, Jim mistakenly called Shirokoji Aspergillus luchuensis. That is incorrect. It is Aspergillis kawachii. Aspergillus luchuensis is another name for Aspergillus awamori.

Vocabulary from this episode

Kikoji - Yellow koji, Aspergillus oryzae. The standard sake strain of koji kin.

Koji kin - the actual way to refer to the mold spores that are added to rice to make rice koji.

Kurokoji - Black koji, Aspergillus awamori/Aspergillus luchuensis. The standard strain of koji kin for making the Okinawan rice spirit of awamori.

Shirokoji - White koji. Aspergillus kawachii. The standard strain of koji kin for making Japan’s spirit of shochu. Oddly, a mutated form of Aspergillus awamori.

Toko - Literally “floor/bed.” The table where major hand-made koji production happens.

Hako - Literally “box.” A box where moderately sized batches of hand-made koji are propagated for temperature control.

Futa - Literally “lid.” Smaller boxes for precise, granular temperature control in hand-made koji production.

Recommended Sake

Andy - 無窮天穏 Mukkyu Tenon

Jim - Gokyo Five Yellow

Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a  Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Nov 30, 202201:11:14
Kodaishu - Days of Yore
Oct 31, 202255:50
Terroir 2 - The Bonsai Theory

Terroir 2 - The Bonsai Theory

Show Notes:

In a departure from the typical fact-based fare, this time Andy and Jim trawl the murky depths of terroir. What is it, really? No, really? And, is it really going to “save sake?” Predictably, we don’t think so… Enjoy the second part of our first ever two-parter!

Recommended Sake in this Episode:

Andrew:

Tsuki no I Nanotsuki Kimoto Junmai 80%

Jim

Kai no Kaiun Tokubetsu Junmai Nama Genshu (Limited edition-sorry. The shiboritate and regular junmai are great, too!)


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Sep 30, 202242:03
Terroir 1 - Nous Ne Parlons Pas
Aug 31, 202246:10
Miyamizu - Not Quite Holy Water

Miyamizu - Not Quite Holy Water

Show Notes:

Andy and Jim look into perhaps the most famous brewing water in Japan: Miyamizu. Why is it so famous? Why ISN’T it part of Nada’s rise to fame? All will be revealed! NOTE: Issues beyond our control resulted in some need for re-recording and editing, so sound quality is kind of spotty in this episode. We apologize!

Recommended Sake in this Episode:

Andrew:

Sakura Masamune Kyokai 1 

Jim

Hakushika Suzuro Shiboritate Futsushu 

Useful vocabulary for this episode:

灘五郷 Nadagogo - the five villages of Nada. Currently, they are Imazu, Nishinomiya, Uozaki, Mikage, and Nishi.

灘目 Nadame - The original “nada brewing region.” The me is likely a corruption of 辺 be, meaning “area around.”


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Jul 31, 202247:27
Sokujo - Dropping the New Science

Sokujo - Dropping the New Science

Show Notes:

Andy and Jim take on Sokujomoto, the incredibly common fast yeast starter. On the way, they explore its linked history with yamahai, talk about how it got so common, and clarify its modern variations.

Recommended Sake in this Episode:

Andrew:

Bijofu Ginjo Rei

Jim:

Takarabune Junmai Saito no Shizuku

Useful vocabulary for this episode:

Sokujo Moto - Fast yeast starter. Developed by Kamajiro Eda, first established in detail in an NRIB journal article in 1910, but also hinted at in 1909.

Koon Toka - High temperature saccharification fast yeast starter. Also known as amazake moto. Particularly common in Hiroshima brewing.

Chuon Toka - Medium temperature saccharification fast yeast starter.

Teion Toka - Low temperature saccharification fast yeast starter. Also known as futsusokujo. The original sokujo moto.

Kobo Jikomi - “Yeast mashing.” No-starter brewing.


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Jun 30, 202249:45
Rice Polishing- The Miller Tells His Tale

Rice Polishing- The Miller Tells His Tale

Show Notes:

This month, Jim and Andy grind away at the true first stage of sake brewing: rice polishing. Or is it milling? Seimai. Whatever. They work their usual magic looking at the whos, whats, whens, and whys of how genmai becomes hakumai. Come and listen!

Recommended Sake in this Episode:

Andrew:

Kirei Mannen Junmai Ginjo Genshu

Jim:

Harada Junmai 80

Useful vocabulary for this episode:

Seimaibuai -  The amount of rice left after milling/polishing, expressed as a percent.

Satake - The biggest manufacturer of rice milling equipment in Japan, and thus the world.

Shinseimai - A more accurate measure of seimaibuai, done by measuring the weight difference between wholegrain rice and polished rice in thousand-grain batches.

Karausu - the original rice hulling technology, consisting of a foot-driven mortar and pestle.

Genmai - whole rice, husk and all.

Hakumai - white rice, after polishing for eating or brewing.


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

May 31, 202201:06:23
Kanzake - It's Getting Hot in Here

Kanzake - It's Getting Hot in Here

Jim and Andy take on one of the most persistent sake myths around: that hot sake means bad sake. Here, they go back to see just how long people have been warming up their tipples, explore why the practice seems to have fallen out of favor, and of course offer up their own preferences.

Recommended Sake in this Episode:

Andrew:

Ozasaya Taketsuru Junmai Genshu Omachi

Jim:

Choyo Fukumusume Chokugumi Kimoto Junmai


Useful vocabulary for this episode:

The Kan Names:

日向燗  Hinatakan (Sunlit warm) about 30℃

人肌燗  Hitohadakan (skin warmth) 35℃

ぬる燗  Nurukan (Lukewarm) 40℃

上燗     Jokan (Upper hot) 45℃

熱燗     Atsukan (Hot hot) 50℃

飛びきり燗     Tobikirikan (Really hot) 55℃


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Apr 30, 202250:17
Omachi - The Gentle Giant

Omachi - The Gentle Giant

Show Notes:

Your two resident Omachists take on the only rice variety with its own fan club, Omachi. The gentle giant has a rabid fanbase, but why? What makes it different? Where’s it from? Andy brings his hands-on experience and Jim brings his unending thirst to this month’s Sake Deep Dive.

Recommended Sake in this Episode:

Andrew:

Tamagawa Tetsukazu (Untouched) Junmai Ginjo Omachi

Jim:

Taka Sakana Atsurae Omachi 55

Useful vocabulary for this episode:

岸本甚 造 Kishimoto Jinzou - A farmer from Omachi village in Bizen no Kuni (Now Omachi district of Okayama City) who discovered two tall stalks of rice on his way home from a visit to Hokinokuni (Tottori) Daisen 伯耆大山.

赤磐雄町 Akaiwa Omachi - A pure strain of Omachi commonly considered “the best,” for reasons unclear.

改良雄町 Kairyo Omachi - “Improved” Omachi crossbred in Shimane and now common in Hiroshima.


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Mar 31, 202248:13
Bodaimoto - Brewing at the Buddha's Foot

Bodaimoto - Brewing at the Buddha's Foot

This month, Andy and Jim look into the mystical (or not) Bodaimoto method of making sake. What is it? Where did it come from? Where did it come BACK from? All will be revealed as we clear away the mists of myth to become one with the truth of this ancient sake brewing method.

Recommended Sake in this Episode:

Andrew:

Gozenshu Bodaimoto Junmai Nigori from Tsuji Honten

Jim:

Takacho from Yucho Shuzo

Useful vocabulary for this episode:

Bodaimoto - A style of brewing using natural production of a lactic acid solution prior to the actual fermentation process.

Bodaiken - Nara-ken bodaimoto ni yoru seishu seizou kenkyukai, or the Nara Prefecture Study Group for Producing Sake using Bodaimoto. A group of local experts, temple representatives, and sake brewers in Nara Prefecture who have claimed the Bodaimoto name for their process.

Ikakimoto - Another traditional name for the process used in Bodaimoto, referring to a basket used to hold cooked rice in water to start lactic fermentation.

Mizumoto - A term used to refer to the same process as Bodaimoto, but for those who do not belong to the Bodaiken group. Originally, a process similar to proto-Yamahai.

Soboshu - Sake made by Buddhist monks during the early period of sake’s flourishing.


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Feb 28, 202254:44
Koshu - It's Time That We Love
Jan 31, 202201:06:27
Kimoto: Raising Wee Beasties

Kimoto: Raising Wee Beasties

Kimoto: Raising Wee Beasties

The is a really deep dive, even for us. Kimoto: Raising Wee Beasties sees Andrew Russell and Jim Rion discuss the venerable kimoto method of making the seed mash for sake brewing, and hopefully clear up some common misconceptions about it and its close relative of yamahai.

Recommended Sake in this Episode:

Andrew:

Tamagawa Kimoto Junmai Stork Label

Jim:

Nakashimaya Kimoto Junmai Chokarakuchi

Useful vocabulary for this episode:

Yamaoroshi / Motosuri: The iconic “pole mashing” that everyone imagines for kimoto starter. Two kurabito stand on opposite sides of a wooden hangiri tank and mash rice, rice koji, and a bit of water into a paste. The goal is to help physically kickstart the koji's primary job of saccharifying rice.

Sodatemoto: Another name for the kimoto-kei family of starters, it means “nurtured starter,” or “raised starter.”

Namamoto: In kimoto-kei, after the starter has gone through lactic bacterial fermentation but before it starts yeast fermentation, it was once called 生 nama. The character can also be read “ki.”

Utase: A stage of kimoto-kei starters in which the saccharified mash is left at low temperature to encourage bacterial fermentation. A key part of the process.


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Dec 31, 202148:54
Sake Shallow Dive - A Look Back at 2021
Dec 24, 202146:32
Aruten: A Constant Companion

Aruten: A Constant Companion

Aruten: A Constant Companion

In this episode of Sake Deep Dive, Co-Hosts Andrew Russel and Jim Rion go back the very beginnings of when, and why, distilled alcohol was first added to seishu, trace the rise and fall of aruten, and see just what goes into this delicious class of sake. 

Recommended Sake in this Episode:

Andrew:

Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute Honjozo

Jim:

Nakashimaya Tokubetsu Honjozo

Useful vocabulary for this episode:

Aruten: short for arukooru tenka, meaning “added alcohol.” The catch-all common term for sake that has distilled alcohol added.

Honjozo: the specific term for tokuteimeishoshu (special designation sake) made with added distilled alcohol.

Shochu: Japan’s original distilled alcohol tradition. Goes back some 500 years, and originally just meant “distilled alcohol.” Now, classed into two varieties: honkaku, or authentic, shochu is a single distilled craft beverage, while korui shochu is cheap, highly-distilled neutral alcohol diluted down to 25% as a base for mixed drinks.

Hashirashochu / Hashirajochu: A name used for the traditional distilled alcohol that was added to the sake mash from the early Edo period.


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Dec 14, 202146:53
Ginjo: Not Just a Number

Ginjo: Not Just a Number

In this episode of Sake Deep Dive, Jim and Andy take a look at Ginjo--the word, the sake, and the significance. We hope people learn that there’s more to it than just milling ratios, and see just how important Hiroshima is to the modern conception of this “scrutinized” brewing method. Remember, ginjo is good, but it’s not everything!


Recommended sake in this episode

Andrew:

Fukucho Hattanso Ginjo, Imada Shuzo Honten, Hiroshima

Ippakusuisei, Fukurokuju Shuzo, Akita

Jim:

Kankiko Chiisana Yorokobi, Sawada Shuzo, Nara

Useful vocabulary from this episode

吟味する ginmi suru - to thoroughly scrutinize, investigate, or savor.

YK35 - A winning recipe for the annual Japan sake awards back in the day. Yamadanishiki milled to 35%, and Kyugo Kobo (Association yeast number 9).


Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Oct 31, 202156:21
Futsushu: Humble King of Sake

Futsushu: Humble King of Sake

Futsushu, the sadly undervalued, yet overwhelmingly popular base of the sake pyramid.
In Sake Deep Dive's inaugural episode, hosts Jim Rion and Andrew Russell discuss the meaning of the term, its history, and the reason why so many people turn up their noses at this enormously diverse class of sake.
They also give some insight into how it's made, and how to know which ones are worth trying.

Recommended Brands in this Episode: 

Gokyo 五橋  http://www.gokyo-sake.co.jp 

Kinpai 金盃 http://www.kinpai.co.jp


Useful Japanese vocabulary for this episode:

級別制度 kyuubetsu seido: The old ranked system for classifying sake into Tokkyuu, 1-kyuu, and 2-kyuu. Lasted from 1942 to 1992. Now, many futsushu labels call back to this system with 特撰 Tokusen, 上撰 Jousen, and 佳撰 Kasen.

Our theme music is from Lotus Lane by The Loyalist - Preconceived Notions

Available at https://soundcloud.com/preconceived-notions

Under a Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lotus-lane

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/1YVHRMVwwHg

Sep 28, 202142:03