Sugidama Podcast

Sugidama Podcast

This is a podcast to chronicle my journey into the world of sake and other Japanese drinks, food, culture and history. While I have a sake qualification (International Kikisake-shi), I still consider myself as a novice in the sake world. I have plenty to learn about the drink and I want to share this experience with my listeners through personal accounts, interesting facts about sake and interviews with sake experts.

Episodes

June 30, 2022 71 min

After concluding The Emergence of Sake series tracing the history of sake brewing from ancient times until the modern times,  I decided to follow it with two interviews highlighting the modern trends in sake making.

And in this episode, I am talking to Tom Wilson, a master brewer and owner of the first UK sake brewery, Kanpai London. Kanpai represents a modern approach to sake brewing but follows the same philosophy as most brewers ...

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Last time we were talking about the Edo period, which brought many techniques and innovations into sake brewing resulting in better and more stable sake. But the real revolution in sake-making happened after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate: during the Meiji era but particularly at the beginning of the 20th century. In this episode I am talking about huge changes in the sake industry, the foundation of the National Research Insti...

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Sake is not a very easy topic. If you want to understand it well, you need to do some studying. You can buy a book or two about sake (see Episode 12 Essential Books about Sake) and read them. You can go to sake events and probably join a sake promoting organisation such as the British Sake Association.  Finally, you can go to a sake course and get a sake qualification.

And my guest for this episode is Marie Cheong-Thong, a certified...

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The Edo period for sake brewing was like the Victorian era for the industrial revolution. So many things that happened then still influence the drink now: from technological advances and new brewing techniques to the geography and taste. In this episode, we are looking at the evolution of sake during the Edo period and the emergence of kimoto as a dominating brewing method.

Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, Londo...

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It's always exciting to read a new book about sake. There are not that many of them published outside Japan.  But the fact that this new book is written by two amazing authors and sake specialists Nancy Matsumoto, a renowned sake and food journalist and Michael Tremblay, Sake Samurai and sake educator, makes it even more thrilling.

In this episode, I am talking with Nancy and Michael about their new book, Exploring the World of ...

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Soboshu, the sake brewed by monks played a very important role in the development of sake brewing techniques in medieval Japan. The monasteries possessed many key components necessary for successful sake-making: economic power, skilled labour force, scientific knowledge and strong political clout. However, it all was ended by Oda Nobunaga, who saw temples as a threat to his rule.

One of the very significant inventions was bodaimoto...

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The new interview with Naoki Toyota and Tracey Delaney from The Sparkling Sake Brewery based in Cambridgeshire. Inspired by nature, Naoki went to study sake brewing in Nara, the birthplace of Japanese sake. After returning to the UK, he went on the mission to create the sake, which would express the beauty of UK nature. 

His collaboration with Tracey, who is a certified sake specialist has led to the creation of AWA, a beautiful sp...

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I continue the mini-series about the emergence of sake with an episode about probably the major technological breakthrough in sake making: the use of koji, this amazing friendly microorganism, I was talking with Akemi Yokoyama about in Episode 16.  But what is the link between sake and the Imperial Court? And what is "soboshu", monk sake?

Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online...

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The first interview of Season 3: a conversation about a new Japanese sake and grocery store, HIS Japan Premium, with John Opondo, who is Managing Director of HIS Europe and Masahiro Tsuji, HIS Business Development Manager.

John and Masahiro are telling a story of how a travel company decided to open a sake and grocery store in Central London during the COVID-19 pandemic. HIS Japan Premium has an excellent sake selection curated by N...

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After a break Sugidama Podcast is back with a short series talking about the emergence of sake brewing methods from ancient times to our days. In this episode, we are talking about the roots of sake from how people discovered alcohol in the first place to ancient sake brewing technics used up to 800 CE using the archaeological evidence and Japanese myths and legends.

Don't forget about our sponsor, London Sake, an excellent onli...

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In the final episode of Season 2, I am talking to Andy Travers, the founder of London Sake, an online sake shop, and Sugidama Podcast's sponsor. We covered quite a lot of topics from the London Sake story, to the Olympics, bottle labels and managed to taste and discussed three excellent sake during our conversation.

London Sake is an excellent online sake store and has one of the widest premium and craft sake selections availab...

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The fourth episode in the short Sake Focus series is about ginjo, premium and super-premium sake made from highly polished rice. The name comes from two Chinese characters and could be translated as "crafted or carefully brewing".  But there's much more in ginjo than just a high milling ratio.

Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online sake store. London Sake has one of the wid...

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The third episode in the short Sake Focus series is about namazake, unpasteurised sake which is known for its unruly wild and lively character. Nama can be translated from Japanese as live, raw, fresh, or even natural. And it's all true about namazake. Listen to the episode to find out about different types of namazake including famous autumn sake called hiyaoroshi.

Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London S...

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The second episode in the short Sake Focus series is about nigori, which takes its origin from the ancient sacred drink called doburoku. Doburoku is the oldest method of sake brewing which survived more than a thousand years of history and is still around nowadays. Nigori is cloudy sake, where rice and yeast particles from fermentation left in the final product. Sometimes it’s called unfiltered sake, but it’s not correct. Listen to...

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June 10, 2021 25 min

Recently, I have spoken to one of my listeners, who praised this podcast for its wonderful content. “But you know”, he said. “Sake is a completely new thing for me and I feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information you put in each episode. Why don’t you make them a bit easier to digest?” And he’s absolutely right. So I decided to do a series of episodes focusing on one particular topic, I have mentioned before. And this ti...

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The conclusion of the Sake Ingredients mini-series with an interview with Andrew Russell about sake yeast, which he calls an unsung hero of sake brewing. Andrew moved to Japan from Scotland to pursue his interest in what he described as “a fascinating and multifaceted country” and fulfil his dream of becoming a sake brewer. He started working as kurabito, a sake brewery worker, first at a small brewery on the outskirts of Okayama p...

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On a nice April morning, I've got a call from Rie Yoshitake, whom I know from numerous sake events.  "Alex, would you like to be a sake judge at IWC", she asked out of the blue. "Yes!", I replied without any hesitation. It was my dream for the last couple of years and now it's been fulfilled! Yay!

In this episode, I am talking about the IWC (International Wine Challenge), how the judging happens, my personal ...

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A great interview about sake, cooking, mirin and other things with Kinu Yukawa. She is a Japanese chef and cookery teacher from Kobe, Japan, currently based in London. She ventured into the world of food early in life and fostered the basics of cooking from her grandmother. Later she trained in French cuisine at Ecole Ritz Escoffier Paris and traditional Japanese cuisine in Kyoto.

Don't forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor...

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Koji is a magical ingredient of sake. A tiny microorganism that turns starch into sugar and makes it possible to make this beautiful drink. It's a national benevolent mould of Japan, which appeared in the country more than a thousand years ago and responsible for a large part of Japanese cuisine.

And to talk about koji I invited Akemi Yokoyama, who is a chef, cookery teacher, specialising in Japanese cuisine and a koji specialis...

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Rice is the essence of sake. It’s the source of alcohol and it gives sake its flavour, aroma, texture and character. It’s like grape to wine but slightly different. But rice is not the most suitable ingredient for an alcoholic beverage for one obvious reason: it does not have much sugar. But people found a way to turn starch which dominates the rice grain into sugar using koji and to make beautiful sake.

In this episode, I am talkin...

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