Kojima Sohonten switchs to junmai sake production

Kojima Sohonten, the 13th oldest existing sake brewery founded in 1597, has changed its entire range to junmai (pure rice) sake.

From its shipment on 1 October 2020, the company’s entire lineup no longer added distilled alcohol to its sake meaning its the 52 breweries under the Kojima Sohonten name became the largest all-junmai sake brand in the world.

Kenichiro Kojima, president and CEO of Kojima Sohonten, said that the motivation behind Kojima Sohonten’s change, while environmentally driven, was to return to its origins with a pure form of sake.

The current trend of adding distilled alcohol to sake first became popular during World War II when there was a rice shortage throughout Japan.

As a result, sake brewers increased the amount of sake they brewed with spirits which led to the creation of Ginjo-style. The distilled alcohol used to make these sakes is normally made from sugarcane distilled in South America and Southeast Asia which is then transported to Japan.

The expenditure of fuel to transport this product to Japan and then export the finished sake is significant and was a driving factor behind Kojima Sohonten’s change in production.

According to the brand, the change was made possible by its improvements in raw material processing and brewing technology and by making pure sake from only domestic and increasingly local ingredients, Kojima Sohonten hopes to expose the Yamagata region to the world.