Sugidama Sake Podcast

Sugidama Sake 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.


December 2, 2023 28 mins

The new season of Sugidama Sake Podcast is out and I am releasing the first episode on Saturday! This is the start of a mini-series "How to Enjoy Sake".  After talking to a lot of people who don't drink sake I have realised that very often the reason is that they believe that sake has some special rules for buying, drinking and enjoying it and they don't know them.

In reality, sake is like any other dri...

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The final episode of Season 4 is about a new Shochu Advisor Course, run by the Intentional Sake School. I have recently taken it and decided to share my experience. The course was taught by amazing Toshio Ueno,  a Co-Founder of the Sake School of America, Director of Sake at MTC. Ueno san is Sake Samurai and advisor to many Japanese government bodies, associations and companies. His knowledge stretches from wine and beer to sake an...

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It's the conclusion of the Sake Around the World miniseries. We started it in Birmingham with Simon Boulton, then flew to Hong Kong to talk to Eric and Will, after that we chatted with Timothy and John from the Sake Revolution podcast in New York and made a stop in Paris to discuss sake and wine culture with Tony. Finally, we are back in England to speak with Jamie Ryder about the sake scene in Manchester and the North of Engl...

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Kuheiji Kuno is a maverick. He's a trailblazer of the sake world taking his inspiration from hundreds of years of sake brewing tradition, Japanese culture and philosophy of living with nature, and French winemaking.  He believes in terroir, which remains a controversial topic in the sake industry. But he doesn't just believe in it, he demonstrates it with his sake.

So we sit down with Nao Torisawa and Hiro Kumaga...

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We continue our journey around the world to find out how sake fares in different countries. And today I am talking to Tony Yip from VSF Wine Education about France. How does sake coexist with wine in one of the key wine-making countries?  Do people drink sake at all there and what about local sake?  I have asked Tony all these questions. So listen to the episode to find out what he replied!

Don't forget, Sugidama Podc...

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A new English-language book about sake is always big news. They do not come that often. It's passed almost a year since Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake by Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay (see Episode 30). And this time we are treated by Discovering Yamaguchi Sake by Jim Rion.

You should know Jim very well. He's a sake writer, translator and co-host of the fantastic Sake Deep Dive podcast. He'...

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The United States is the largest export market for Japanese sake. And for the last few decades, New York has been the key destination for sake outside Asia.  Many sake brands first came there and only after that to Europe.  A dedicated sake bar Decibel opened its doors in New York in 1993, almost 30 years before London got its first sake bar.

 So how does the sake scene in the United States and in New York in particular lo...

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Founded in 1711, Niida Honke has been brewing sake in the same location in Kōriyama, Fukushima Prefecture for more than 300 years. The brewery is known for the combination of traditional brewing techniques with its strong commitment to natural ingredients and its philosophy that everything has to be done in harmony with nature.

 The name of the brewery's flagship brand, Shizenshu, means “natural sake". Niida Honk...

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From Birmingham to Hong Kong following sake around the world!  I am talking to Eric Fung and Will Jarvis about the sake scene in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is one of the largest export markets for sake just behind the US and Mainland China due for a number of reasons: 

  1. Due to the proximity to Japan, consumers in Hong Kong have very good understanding of sake
  2. The city has low import tariffs, which also makes it a re-export mark...
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Yoshida Sake Brewery, the maker of Tedorigawa sake, is famous not only for its amazing and delicious sake but also for the documentary, The Birth of Sake, which follows the process of traditional, craft sake making throughout the winter of 2013.

So we sat down with Asami Tasaka and Masayo Nuttall from World Sake Imports UK to talk about the brewery and try three of their excellent sake. Founded by Chris Pearce in Honolulu...

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This is the first episode in the Sake Around the World series. Today I am talking with Samuel Boulton about sake in Birmingham. With almost 15 years in the industry, Sam boasts many accolades such as CLASS Awards 2022, Bar Employer of the year, The Drinks Trust Golden Pineapple 2022 Winner of the award Best Internal Staff Initiatives. 

Samuel is also on the Spirits Judging Committee for the world-renowned IWSC, specialisin...

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Noguchi Naohiko is a legend in the world of sake. He has been making sake since 1949 and is widely known as the God of Sake Brewing. After working at a number of breweries as a toji (master brewer) he now heads The Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute (NNSI) established in 2017 with the vision of passing Noguchi-Toji’s skill, spirit and sake philosophy to a new generation of brewers. 

At last, Noguchi sake is available in the U...

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The wait is over and Season 4 is on with a lot of interesting interviews, breweries overviews, tastings, special episodes and even a competition together with London Sake, which will be announced later.

In this episode, I am talking to a bunch of very cool people I met at the British Sake Association Grand Tasting of Sake in October 2022.

You will hear from Natalie from Kanpai London, Chie from Wakaze Sake,  Hiro...

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July 28, 2022 42 mins

Yay, it's been two years and three seasons of Sugidama Podcast! And this is the last episode of Season 3, where I share some observations from the IWC Sake judging this year and the Award Winning Sake Tasting at the Embassy of Japan followed after.

During that tasting event, I took comments from my fellow judges, sake breweries and even from the Ambassador of Japan to the United Kingdom,  His Excellency  Hayashi Hajim...

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This is the second interview, which concludes the Emergence of Sake series and highlights the modern sake trends. This time with Jim Rion and Andrew Russell from the super interesting and informative Sake Deep Dive podcast. 

Andy has already been on Sugidama Podcast before passionately talking about sake yeast in Episode 19. He is a sake brewer at Imada Shuzo and the author of the Origin Sake blog.

Jim is a free...

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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 mos...

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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...

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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 ...

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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 th...

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