Seto Shuzo Brewery
Seto Shuzo Brewery
- 3117 Gochoda Ko, Shiota-cho, Ureshino City
- TEL 0954-66-2014
- Business Hours: 8:00-17:00
- Closed: Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays
- Direct Sales: Yes (tasting unavailable)
- Brewery Tour: Unavailable
- Website: http://www.azumacho.co.jp/
The Sake MacArthur Loved: A Brewer That Has Left Its Mark on History
Located amidst the quiet rice paddies of Ureshino City is Seto Shuzo, known for its “Azumacho.”
Seto Shuzo was founded in the first year of the Kansei era (1789). Azumacho was first sold in 1920. It was named by Takashi Hara, the prime minister known for creating Japan’s first cabinet. It is said that the name “Azumacho” (written with the characters for “East” and “leader”) comes from Hara’s evaluation that the sake was “suitable for the monarchs of the East.”
Immediately after the end of World War II, Azumacho happened to catch the eye of General MacArthur at a party held by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and became a designated commodity of the SCAP. The delivery statements remain at Seto Shuzo to this day.
The distinguishing trait of the historical Azumacho is its high quality sweetness that takes advantage of the flavor of rice. In general, sake from Saga is said to be sweet; however, as this does not conform to the national trend of light, dry flavors, the sweetness of many sake has been reduced lately. Despite this, chief brewer Shingo Harada is particular about high quality sweetness. He believes that sweetness itself is umami.
High quality sweetness is not exclusive to expensive sake like daiginjo and junmai ginjo. All of Azumacho uses sake rice grown locally in Saga Prefecture and undergoes a three-step sandan jikomi process until it becomes honjozo sake.
Although special designation sake receives a lot of attention these days, “Azumacho’s identity is honjozo,” says Heita Seto, the brewery’s executive director. “Now more than ever, I want people to experience the deliciousness of honjozo sake.”
In order to produce any kind of sake without compromise, Seto Shuzo began planning the modernization of its facilities almost 30 years ago. No matter how much the times change, the experience and sensitivity of brewers are indispensable for sake brewing. Therefore, the brewery uses machines for tasks that can be done mechanically so that the brewers can maximize their performance.
The continuously innovating Seto Shuzo is now taking on a new challenge. Under the leadership of the young Heita, the brewery is working to create a new flavor of sake using the “honest sake brewing” methods that have been passed down since the brewery’s inception. Who knows what the next chapter holds for the brewery that has etched its name in history.