The Kiuchi Brewery was established in 1823 by Kiuchi Gihei, the headman of Konosu village who’s family collected rice from farmers as land taxes for the Mito Tokugawa family. He began his brewery with the idea of using the remaining rice stocks in the warehouse to produce sake. In 1996, the company started brewing beer with a capacity of 1,500 barrels per year. Their distillation facility was built in 2003 to aid with recycling and reduction of waste, initially distilling spirits using leftover rice byproducts from their sake brewing. The name of their sake division – Kikusakari – was taken out of respect for the emperor. Kiku (chrysanthemum) is a crest of the imperial household, and Sakari means ‘property’.
To make sake, rice is first polished (milled) to remove the outer husk – the more the rice is polished, the higher grade of sake it produces. This is done gently and slowly, to avoid cracking the kernels, or producing too much heat. The polished rice is then rinsed clean, soaked to absorb water, and carefully steamed to cook the rice. After it is cooled, a portion of the cooked rice is separated and sprinkled with koji-kin, a black powdered mold that converts the starches in rice into sugars. This inoculated rice (koji) is mixed with plain rice, water, and yeast, and is matured for 1-2 weeks. It is then transferred to the fermenter, where more rice, koji, and water are added in three stages over four days, to give the yeast time to grow. This moromi (mash) is then fermented for 2-3 weeks. When finished, it is loaded into canvas bags, pressed, and again allowed to rest and settle. It is then pumped off any remaining yeast and sediment, filtered, pasteurized, proofed with water, and bottled.