Kijoshu Sake (貴醸酒)
Kijoshu sake is a sweet Japanese rice wine with a unique thickness brewed using sake instead of water.
Ordinary sake is brewed by mixing rice and water in the ratio of 100 to 130, while kijoshu sake is brewed by mixing rice, water and sake in the ratio of 100, 70 and 60. Although sake is ordinarily used only in the last stage of the three-stage brewing of kijoshu sake (called "nihonshu dome"), more luxurious methods of using sake instead of water through all stages of brewing are also being studied.
High-quality water drawn from wells excavated by sake breweries is used for the brewing of ordinary sake instead of tap water used in homes. Nevertheless, brewing water is much less expensive than the sake used for the brewing of kijoshu sake. This means that considerable costs are involved in the manufacture of kijoshu sake.
Many kijoshu sake varieties are brewed as pure Japanese rice sake (called "junmaishu" in Japanese), and although there are variations in the optional descriptions given based on the standards for the labeling of the brewing methods and quality of refined sake defined by the National Tax Agency, all kijoshu sake varieties, brewed with sake, have a strong taste, lingering sweetness, a pleasant sour taste and a fresh aftertaste, along with deep flavors that make them suitable as an aperitif or digestif. Another characteristic common to these kijoshu sake varieties is that the quality of the sake is maintained for a long period of time and as they gain in maturity in barrels, they develop a deep amber tint and a smooth texture. It is common that kijoshu sake is cooled in the refrigerator and drunk on the rock.
The concept of kijoshu sake was conceived by the National Brewery Institute based on an ancient description of Japanese sake written by a brewery master of the Sake Brewery Division of the Imperial Household Agency that appears in a legal document of the Heian period, "Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers) (published in 927). Kijoshu sake was subsequently developed by the National Tax Agency, and the National Research Institute of Brewing holds the patent for its manufacture. Although Kijoshu sake was not as yet available in large quantities in the market in 2006, the Kijoshu Sake Association has already been established and some of its member breweries are actively engaged in the research and development of kijoshu sake.