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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On 4:03 PM by The Bloggers @ 67 Wine in , , , , ,    No comments

Nigori-zake is widely popular for its distinct, cloudy appearance and full, chewy texture. Yet despite nigori’s current popularity, did you know that it used to be illegal to brew?

When sake was first created long ago, all sake was nigori. The word ‘nigori’ means ‘cloudy,’ in Japanese, and refers to to the opaque cloud that forms in the bottle when shaken. That cloud is created by fine rice particles that don’t break down during the 30- to 40-day fermentation period and are purposely allowed to pass through to pressing. Brewers didn’t take the time, or care, to finely press the sake they were making until Japan’s Heian Era, from 791 to 1192.

Sake brewing laws were formally written during the late 1800s, and they stipulated that all sake must be made through a press — thus rendering nigori illegal. Though the law aimed to control quality and reduce bootlegging, some brewers still wanted to produce nigori. In the mid 1960s, a Kyoto brewery named Tsuki no Katsura spearheaded the effort to legalize nigori, and on April 13, 1966, breweries were able to once again legally brew it.

Today, there is a range of styles of nigori, from the finely pressed Ohyama Nigori to the fuller Pure Snow. There’s a version to please everyone, so why not pick up a bottle and wish nigori-zake and a very happy (and belated) birthday.

-Samantha Weinberg


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