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Sugidama Podcast

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This is a podcast to chronicle my journey into the world of sake and other Japanese drinks, food, culture and history. While I have a sake qualification (International Kikisake-shi), I still consider myself as a novice in the sake world. I have plenty to learn about the drink and I want to share this experience with my listeners through personal accounts, interesting facts about sake and interviews with sake experts.
12 Episodes
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There are plenty of books about wine or whiskey. You go to any bookshop and you can always find something. Unfortunately, there are actually not many English language books available about the beautiful drink of Japanese sake. Definitely more than 5 (I’ve got seven) but still probably fewer than 15. But the five books I am going to talk about are probably the must. Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online sake store. London Sake has one of the widest selections of premium and craft sake available online today. They deliver across the UK and Europe, and with over 100 sake from 25 breweries, there really is something for everyone.Using simple online tasting notes and sensible, affordable food pairings they help you find the perfect sake without any of the fuss. Listeners of the podcast can get a 10% discount Listen to the episode to get the magical code! London Sake: making sake simple.Episode's Content:Books about sake in EnglishThe Sake Handbook by John Gauntner Sake Confidential by John GauntnerThe Book of Sake: A Connoisseur's Guide by Philip HarperThe Japanese Sake Bible by Brian AshcraftThe Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks by Stephen Lyman and Chris BuntingSake of the episode: Kubota Senju (Ginjo) Kampai!Sake mentioned:Kubota Senjyu GinjoAsahi Shuzo Sake Brewing CompanyLondon SakeMusic used:Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz https://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Vocal: Svetlana
The origin of sake is covered in mystery. In order to get some clarity, I have spoken to Natsuki Kikuya, who is a certified sake and wine professional, educator and sake sommelier. She’s been a sake judge at the prestigious IWC Sake Category since 2011. In 2013, she launched “Museum of Sake” website, which she calls an intangible museum providing sake education, promoting the craft sake across the UK and Europe, organising sake events and many other exciting things. Coming from a family with sake connections, Natsuki knows a lot about sake: from ancient to the modern days, how sake has evolved during various periods of the Japanese history, how it tasted in the Edo period and when sake renaissance took place. Listen to the interview to find out about that and many other things.Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online sake store. London Sake has one of the widest selections of premium and craft sake available online today. They deliver across the UK and Europe, and with over 100 sake from 25 breweries, there really is something for everyone.Using simple online tasting notes and sensible, affordable food pairings they help you find the perfect sake without any of the fuss. Listeners of the podcast can get a 10% discount Listen to the episode to get the magical code! London Sake: making sake simple.Episode's Content:Natsuki's sake storyBirth of Sake Why rice and what is kojiSake milestonesHow sake tasted during the Edo periodEmergence of breweriesSake and cultureSake RenaissanceSake tipSake of the episode: TETOTEKampai!Sake mentioned:TETOTETsuchida Sake BreweryPan-Techni'on  Main WebsiteMuseum of SakeMusic used:Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz https://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Vocal: Svetlana
Erika a sake and wine specialist and director of Moto London, a sake bar which opened in London Covent Garden just about a year ago. She is an amazing person and whom I have known for some time through my blog, Instagram and personally. The story of Moto is really fascinating. You can imagine what it means to open a bar and not just a bar but a sake bar three months before the UK went into a complete lockdown for more than 2 months and then again in November. But let’s listen to her story.Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online sake store. London Sake has one of the widest selections of premium and craft sake available online today. They deliver across the UK and Europe, and with over 100 sake from 25 breweries, there really is something for everyone.Using simple online tasting notes and sensible, affordable food pairings they help you find the perfect sake without any of the fuss. Listeners of the podcast can get a 10% discount Listen to the episode to get the magical code! London Sake: making sake simple.Episode's Content:Erika's sake storySake and Wine Birth of Moto London: Concept, Name, LocationHighlights and plansMoto's customersImporting sakeA Woman in the Sake WorldSake tipsSake of the episode: Jokigen Junmai Daiginjo Dewasansan 40Kampai!Sake mentioned:Jokigen Junmai Daiginjo Dewasansan 40Moto LondonMoto London  Main WebsiteMusic used:Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz https://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Vocal: Svetlana
Oliver Hilton-Johnson is a Sake Specialist and Director of Tengu Sake, a sake imports, wholesale & retail company. Tengu Sake supplies quality Japanese sake and spirits to some of the UK’s finest restaurants and bars and is the recipient of the International Wine Challenge’s ‘Sake Merchant of the Year’ award 2016 - 2019. In November 2019 Oliver was named as one of the ‘Future 50’ drinks industry professionals to watch. Oliver has got a fascinating story about how he went from hating sake to falling in love with it and setting up one of the best and innovative sake importers in the UK. I know Oliver from the Kikisakeshi Sake Specialist Course I took a few years ago where Satomi, whom I interviewed last time, and he were teaching us the art of sake. But you might have met him at one of many sake events in London before the current pandemic. So Oliver is a great guy and in the interview, he is talking about a lot very interesting stuff:  how to drink sake, how to choose it and also provides very good sake tips. Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online sake store. London Sake has one of the widest selections of premium and craft sake available online today. They deliver across the UK and Europe, and with over 100 sake from 25 breweries, there really is something for everyone.Using simple online tasting notes and sensible, affordable food pairings they help you find the perfect sake without any of the fuss. Listeners of the podcast can get a 10% discount Listen to the episode to get the magical code! London Sake: making sake simple.Episode's Content:Oliver's sake storySip or shot? Hot or cold?What food is great with sake?How to deal with the complex sake terminologyHow to buy sake with confidenceHow to store sake properlySake tipsSake of the episode: Tatenokawa Phoenix Junmai DaiginjoKampai!Sake mentioned:Tatenokawa Phoenix Junmai DaiginjoTatenokawa Sake BreweryTengu SakeTengu Sake Main WebsiteMusic used:Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz https://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Vocal: Svetlana
The second part of the exciting two-parter about how sake is made. I never stop admiring the skill and craftmanship of sake brewers. They manage to create a beautiful drink from rice and water. In this episode we continue exploring the sake brewing process learning about sandan jikomi, multiple parallel fermentation, pressing and post-production.  Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online sake store. London Sake has one of the widest selections of premium and craft sake available online today. They deliver across the UK and Europe, and with over 100 sake from 25 breweries, there really is something for everyone.Using simple online tasting notes and sensible, affordable food pairings they help you find the perfect sake without any of the fuss. Listeners of the podcast can get a 10% discount Listen to the episode to get the magical code! London Sake: making sake simple.Episode's Content:Recap from the previous episodeSandan JikomiMultiple Parallel FermentationWhy open tanks?Sake pressingPreparing sake for bottling (post-production)Sake of the episode: London Kanpai Taru Barrel-Aged JunmaiKampai!Sake mentioned:Taru Barrel-Aged JunmaiKanpai LondonLondon SakeEpisode DictionaryMoto/Shubo (酛/酒母) - yeast starterSandan Jikomi (三段仕込) - a three-stage mixing process of sake fermentation mashMoromi (醪) - sake fermentation mashHatsuzoe/soe (初添/添) - Day 1 of Sandan JikomiOdori (踊り) - Day 2 of Sandan Jikomi (resting day)Nakazoe/naka (仲添/仲) - Day 3 of Sandan JikomiTomezoe/Tome (留添/留) - Day 4 of Sandan JikomiFune (槽) - sake pressArabashiri (荒走り) - rough runNakadori/Nakagumi (中取り/中汲み) - mid run in sake pressingSeme (責め) - the final run in sake pressingFukuro-tsuri (袋吊り) -  hanging cotton bagsShizuku-zake (雫酒) - drip sakeTobingakoi (斗瓶囲い) - a special 18-litre sake bottle Sake kasu (酒粕) - sake lees, a by-product of sake pressingOribiki (おり) - rice sedimentRoka ( ろ過) - filteringChozo (貯蔵) - sake maturationChougu (調合) - blendingWarimizu - (割水) - diluting sake with waterMusic used:Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz https://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Vocal: Svetlana 
Satomi Dosseur is a sake professional and educator, a founder of Enshu Limited, which runs a  great and very interesting sake specialist course (Kikisake-shi) in London, which I took a few years ago. Satomi can talk hours about sake and is very good at encouraging people to try it and enjoy. Born and raised in Tokyo, Satomi grew up with a deep understanding and love of Japan’s exceptional culture. She was taught by her Japanese parents to appreciate and love the diverse uniqueness of Japan’s way of life.With certification from the SSI, and completion of the Japan Sake Brewers Association’s technical Sake making course, Satomi continues to be recognised as a leading Kikisake-shi and Shochu Kikisake-shi professional.Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online sake store. London Sake has one of the widest selections of premium and craft sake available online today. They deliver across the UK and Europe, and with over 100 sake from 25 breweries, there really is something for everyone. Using simple online tasting notes and sensible, affordable food pairings they help you find the perfect sake without any of the fuss. Listeners of the podcast can get a 10% discount Listen to the episode to get the magical code! London Sake: making sake simple.Episode's Content:How to order sakeSake and foodSake as digestiveSake tipsSake of the episode: Nishinoseki Cube Honjozo GenshuKampai!Sake mentioned:Nishinoseki Cube Honjozo GenshuKayashima Sake BreweryLondon SakeEnshu Limited (Kikisake-shi)Music used:Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz https://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Vocal: Svetlana 
Great news! Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online sake store. London Sake has one of the widest selections of premium and craft sake available online today. They deliver across the UK and Europe, and with over 100 sake from 25 breweries, there really is something for everyone. Using simple online tasting notes and sensible, affordable food pairings they help you find the perfect sake without any of the fuss. Listeners of the podcast can get a 10% discount Listen to the episode to get the magical code! London Sake: making sake simple.There is something magical in sake brewing. Sake is a process-driven drink compared to wine which is driven but its main ingredient, grapes. While ingredients play a very important role in sake brewing, 80% of sake quality still comes from the skill of the brewer and only 20% from the ingredients used.Episode's Content:Main stages of sake brewingThe choices made before brewingRice preparationMaking rice kojiSake starter: shubo or motoSake of the episode: Narutotai Ginjo Nama GenshuKampai!Sake mentioned:Narutotai Ginjo Nama GenshuHonke Matsuura BreweryLondon SakeKanpai London BreweryArticle about sake yeastSake Yeast from Origin SakeMusic used:Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz https://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Vocal: Svetlana
A lot of people often ask me why sake. They are usually quite intrigued. I’m not Japanese (they don’t know that sake in Japan is not that popular these days), I’ve never lived in Japan (only visited two times as a tourist), my wife is not Japanese (again, another thing that could link me to the drink, don’t know why). I wouldn’t say that I fell in love with sake at the first sight or shall I say sip. For a long time, my drink of choice was wine or beer. I love German Riesling, I enjoyed French and Italian wines when we were going on holiday there. I like beer. Before my I breakthrough with sake a few years ago, I had tried sake a couple of times and it was ok but nothing to write home about. Then one day I’ve got an email from a good friend of mine, who is also fascinated by Japan, inviting me to a sake tasting. Episode's Content:How I learnt about sake and why I love itPeople of sakeThe history behind every breweryBottles and labelsSake in Japanese culture and artSake and culinarySocial drink: pouring for each otherSake of the episode: DassaiKampai!Sake mentioned:Dassai 45Dassai 39Dassai 23Dassai BeyondAsahi ShuzoSugidama BlogMusic used:Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz https://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Vocal: Svetlana
The process of making sake is really exciting! There are several sake brewing methods: three main ones, kimoto, yamahai and sokujo (or sokujo-moto) and another one, bodaimoto, which is even older but has been rediscovered only recently. Sake taste profile depends to a certain extent on the method used to make it. So if you know what each method means, you can make a better choice of sake.All the methods differ by the way, the starter is created. In kimoto, the starter is churned for hours with special poles to turn it into a mush. Yamahai was invented after the kimoto and got rid of this churning. While sokujo-moto slashed the production process by two whole weeks and produced clearer and more refined sake. Bodaimoto, is a very ancient sake brewing method invented by Nara monks around the 12-14th century and was superseded by kimoto.Episode's Content:What is shubo (moto)?Acidic environmentKimotoYamahaiSokujo-motoBodaimoto and its rediscoveryHow sake made with different methods tasteSake of the episode: Gozenshu 1859 Prototype Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu Nakadori BodaimotoKampai!Sake mentioned:Gozenshu 1859 PrototypeTengu SakeSugidama BlogTengu Sake: A Look at Bodaimoto StartersMusic used: Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz https://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Vocal: Svetlana
While sake has a milder taste compared to wine, it's diversity is astounding. You not only have sake grades or styles which have their own flavour profiles but also sake types, which add another dimension to the sake universe. Nigori, namazake, koshu, all these words mean variations in brewing technics adding unique characteristics to sake. If you know what these names mean, you can better choose sake for your meal or an occasion. The long names of sake, which sounded like spells from old fairy tales,  will suddenly acquire meaning: try  Tokubetsu Junmai Muroka Nama or Nigori Junmai Genshu for example and see if you can decipher them after listening to this episode.Episode's Content:NigoriMurokaNamazakeGenshuTaruzakeKoshuSparkling sakeSake of the Episode: “Arabashiri” First Run Nama GinjoKampai!Sake mentioned:Tamagawa Yamahai Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu “Red Label”World Sake Imports UKVSF WineSorakamiArabashiri First Run Junmai Ginjo Nama GenshuMiyasaka BreweryWorld Sake Imports UKThe Whisky ExchangeBottle ApostolMusic used: Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKazhttps://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Junmai, honjozo, ginjo, daiginjo... What do all these strange words mean? Do we have to know them to enjoy sake?  It will definitely help you to identify the sake types you like, to understand a difference between these incomprehensible sake bottles in a shop or exotic sake names on a wine-list, to decide what sake you should choose for a particular meal, or whether you need to pop the bottle in the fridge before drinking or it’s fine as it is and so on.So let me be your guide in this vast and strange sake universe and you can decide for yourself whether you want to remember all this sake mumbo jumbo or just go easy and enjoy the drink. Episode's Content:Variety of SakeHistory of sake classificationCurrent sake classification criteriaFutsushuWhy do brewers add distilled alcohol?Premium/Special designation sakePremium sake is not always betterSake of the Episode: Dewazakura Oka GinjoKampai!Sake mentioned in the episode:Dewazakura Oka GinjoDewazakura BreweryWorld Sake Imports UKThe Whisky Exchange SorakamiMusic used: Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKazhttps://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Welcome to the first episode of Sugidama Podcast, the podcast about Japanese sake, the amazing drink, I am madly in love with, profoundly fascinated by and eager to tell you about!Sake is a mysterious drink for the Western audience. Many heard but only a few have tried. As any mysterious object, it’s surrounded by myths and legends. Some of them are completely false and others have some truth in them. Before I started my sake journey I also had many misconceptions about it. So I would like to share some of the most common myths and bust them here. Or see if there is any truth in them.In Japanese “sugidama” means a ball made of cedar twigs and it’s a symbol of a sake brewery. In old times a sugidama was usually hung in front of the brewery at the beginning of the brewing season and the locals knew that when it turned brown, the sake was ready and they could head for the brewery for a nice drink. So every time you listen to my podcast or read my blog, why not to have a sip of sake!Episode Contents:Sake: what's in the name: sake vs. nihonshuOrigin of sakeMyth 01: Sake is a spiritMyth 02: Sake is rice wineMyth 03: Sake is always drunk warmMyth 04: Sake is good only with Japanese foodMyth 05: Premium sake is always betterSake of the Episode: Keigetsu Nigori Junmai DaiginjoSake mentioned in the episode:Keigetsu Nigori Junmai DaiginjoKeigetsu Tosa Brewing Company (in Japanese)Hedonism WinesMusic used: Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Checkie_Brown_1005/hey/Wirklich_Wichtig_CB_27Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKazhttps://freemusicarchive.org/music/KieLoKaz/Free_Ganymed/Just_Arround_the_World_Kielokaz_ID_362Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
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