The secret of deliciousness Relationship between Niigata sake and water

Shikomi water features

The Shikomi water in Niigata's sake brewery is mostly soft water.Soft water is water that is low in "dissolved components", that is, minerals.Soft water helps the yeast to work when sake is brewed and fermented.Fermentation progresses slowly in soft water with a small amount of this component, and the resulting sake becomes fine-grained sake.

Uses carefully selected water

The brewing water used for Shikomi sake must be of good quality.It is no exaggeration to say that good water is the decisive factor in making good sake.Brewing water is much more rigorously selected than the national tap water standards.

The following is an example.

Tap water standard Brewing water index
Iron ppm 0.3 or less 0.02 or less
Manganese ppm 0.05 or less 0.02 or less
Chromaticity   Colorless and transparent
Smell / taste No abnormality No abnormality
Organic ppm 5 or less 5 or less

(Supplementary revision latest sake brewing lecture book, p31.33 Brewing Society of Japan (new edition 4 prints 2019/1/30))

Benefits of soft water

There is a distinction between hard water and soft water, and hard water has high hardness and is high in calcium and magnesium.Soft water is the opposite.The hardness component is a nutrient source for yeast during the brewing process.Water, which has a low nutrient source, is a type of sake that is gently fermented with yeast and has a fine texture.It is thanks to this water that Niigata sake is called Tanrei Karakuchi.

Professor Ken Sasaki (Hiroshima Denki Univ.), A famous water expert, classifies as follows.

Hardness (mg / l)
5 or less Super soft water Rare in natural water, such as rainwater
5 ~ 50 Soft water Lots of famous water
50 ~ 150 Medium hardness water Lots of water for brewing
150 ~ 300 Normal hard water Commercial mineral water, etc.
300 and over hard water Mostly in foreign water.Not suitable for Japanese people

* The average value of brewing water in Niigata Prefecture is 40th.

Water usage process in sake brewing

A lot of water is needed for sake brewing.It is said to be 20 to 30 times the amount of sake as a product. Some engineers say that they need 50 times more water.Where exactly is so much water used?

I tried to classify it.

What goes into sake Things that don't fit in sake
  • Moisture contained in rice *
  • Rice water
  • Immersion water in rice
  • Water Shikomi (raw material)
  • Water for split water (raw material)
  • Washing water inside and outside the brewery
  • Washing water for brewing equipment
  • Washing water
  • Boiler and kettle water

All water except * is from sake breweries.

Niigata's strengths, a treasure trove of water

Niigata Prefecture is very blessed with water.One of the reasons is snow.In winter, when moist air from the sea moves across the Japanese archipelago to the Pacific Ocean side, it causes a lot of snow in Niigata.The snow remains in the mountainous areas even in midsummer.It gradually melts and flows through the rivers in Niigata prefecture.This water will eventually be revived in the well of the sake brewery and become water for brewing.

There are many rivers flowing in Niigata prefecture, in order from the north.

  1. Miomote River
  2. Arakawa
  3. Kaji River
  4. Agano River
  5. Uono River
  6. Shinano River
  7. Sekikawa
  8. Himekawa