Brother-sister team of President and Master Brewer (toji) continue their family's legacy. They are pioneers in the use of omachi rice and the ancient bodaimoto brewing technique and produce rich, rustic sake. "The Future of Omachi is Gozenshu".
Earthy, rich and deep flavours from this brewery. Honeyed malt, and rich, creamy flavours are a theme but there are also zesty fruit notes to be found in a couple of their sake.
Tsuji Honten - in Katsuyama town, Okayama, Japan - was founded in 1804 by the Tsuji family. Today's brother & sister team, Soichiro & Maiko Tsuji, are the seventh generation brewers (Maiko-san is one of the few female toji in Japan!) The brewery originally brewed sake for the Miura family: local lords who governed Katsuyama. There are currently nine members of the team, which is why Tsuji Honten's brands are Gozenshu, meaning 'sake for gentlemen' and Gozenshu 9. It is Tsuji Honten's aim to produce sake with both taste and clarity. They are pioneers of using omachi rice and an ancient, medieval brewing technique: bodaimoto. Most of the sakes from Tsuji Honten are brewed using this ancient method first developed by monks during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). The bodaimoto method produces sake with rich, deep, slightly sour and umami flavours.
Omachi is a very old strain of rice which is grown, almost exclusively, in Okayama Prefecture. Tsuji Honten excel in brewing this variety of rice and pride themselves on bringing out its rustic and earthy flavours. They offset the depth of flavour from the rice by using softer water from the Asahi River which is fed from the 110m high Kanba waterfall. Soft water generally produces clean and sweeter sake, thus, the juxtaposition of the two ingredients results in well-balanced, rich, clear tasting sake with buckets of umami.
Katsuyama town was chosen to be "one of the best 100 streets to stroll down" in Japan and it truly is a lovely place to visit. The beautiful buildings and streets were restored, in part, with funds raised by the Tsuji family. The town is famous for its bamboo basketry and also noren (traditional, fabric dividers hung on doors). The winters are mild with steady, average lows of just above freezing and gentle snow falls. Geek Note: From the 2021 brewing year (so that's the winter of 2021 into early 2022) Gozenshu have slightly altered the way they make their bodaimoto yeast starters. Taking inspiration for the shitsugi method for Awamori (similar to the Solera method used for sherry) Gozenshu now use some of the soyashimizu from the previous batch, adding it to the ingredients of the new brew. This lowers the initial pH value and reduces the number of bacteria, resulting in a clearer and more stable start. This method is possible as Gozenshu's style of brewing allows multiple bodaimoto in one season, unlike the bodaimoto style made in Nara Prefecture where a single batch is made in Shoryaku-ji (Shoraku Temple) and split between the participating breweries. Another innovation from Gozneshu!