Scenery Where Rich Japan is Created:Kamotsuru|美しい日本が生まれる風景:賀茂鶴酒造

Japan, the island country which is slender and long, extending north to south. Small, but beautiful land with full of rich nature and blessed with pure water here and there. Delicious things have been developed from beautiful sceneries. In this series, we will introduce delectables originated from landscapes in Japan, which cannot be found in big cities.
南北に長細い島国、日本。国土は狭いけれど、豊かな自然と清い水がそこかしこにある美しい国です。そしてその美しい風景から、日本の美味しいものが育まれています。この連載では、大都会では見られない日本の原風景から生まれる美味しいものを紹介します。

Back to Where It All Began

(英語のあとに日本語が続きます。)

Saijo,Higashihiroshima city in Hiroshima is one of the three major sake brewing towns in Japan along with Nada in Hyogo prefecture and Fushimi in Kyoto. Still now, seven breweries nestle next to each other in the central city, which makes it very rare among “Japanese sake towns.” If you walk around the town with your head up it is clear to see. The red brick chimneys rising from each brewery contrast sharply against the blue sky, creating a beautiful scene. Kamotsuru is a leading brewery in Saijo and is celebrating its centenary this year.

"Making sake begins with cleaning and ends with cleaning." In order to keep bad bacteria away from the brewing, kurabito (a sake artisan) never neglects cleaning. The spacious sake brewery is kept clean and spotless, making the place well-freshened.  Kamotsuru have challenged themselves to go “back to basics” and once again use local ingredients to brew its brand, whilst “valuing the traditional Kamotsuru flavor” upon which the brewery has expanded from generation to generation.

In Japan, it is very rare these days to find sake being made from the local brewing rice. Unlike wine, where the “terroir” is considered very important, there are even some breweries who resource brewing rice from different prefectures. However, Kamotsuru has managed to reproduce legendary “Hiroshima Nishiki” brewing rice. This rice was originally produced in the early 20th century as a premium brewing rice but its production was stopped due to the difficulty of harvesting. Kamotsuru also uses “Kamotsuru natural yeast” whose recipe was invented by Kamotsuru in early 20th century. For water, which is one of the most important factors for sake brewing, they use the underflow water from the local Kamo mountain range.  By combining these key ingredients, Kamotsuru have achieved their goal of producing “Hiroshima Nishiki” sake with a crisp and clean flavor which is wholly “Made in Hiroshima.”

When we visited, it was the last day of the brewing season.  In the silent brewery, the chief sake brewer Shigeru Mukuda tasted the sake, which was freshly squeezed from the last barrel and served in a pure white cup.  “The flavor is refreshing. It’s like Muscat,” said Mukuda. He expressed his confidence in the quality of the sake which was brewed with tender loving care.

While there are many breweries who have closed their business due to slow sales of Japanese sake, Kamotsuru challenges themselves to produce sake all made in Hiroshima. Their attachment to the local resources motivates them to take up this challenge as they look ahead to the next century...

Photographs by Tetsuya Ito

賀茂鶴の原点回帰

写真:賀茂鶴酒造

灘、伏見と並ぶ日本三大銘醸地・広島県東広島市西条。現在も7つの蔵が街の中心地に軒を並べる、全国でも珍しい「日本酒の街」です。それは、いつもより少し目線を上げて歩けば一目瞭然。各蔵の敷地から聳える赤レンガの煙突が、青い空とのコントラストで美しい風景を作り出しているからです。賀茂鶴酒造は、西条を代表する酒蔵で、今年、法人設立100周年を迎えます。

「酒造りは掃除に始まり、掃除に終わる」。酒造りの邪魔をする悪い菌を寄せつけないため、蔵人は常に掃除を怠りません。広々とした酒蔵も丁寧に掃き清められ、埃一つない清々しさです。創業から代々拡張されてきたこの蔵を舞台に、原点に立ち戻り、「味わいを大切にした賀茂鶴らしい酒」を醸すという、賀茂鶴の挑戦が始まりました。

原料の酒米が蔵の周囲でつくられることの少ない日本酒。テロワールを重視するワインと大きく違うのはこの点で、県をまたぎ遠方から酒米を取り寄せる蔵もあるほどです。そんな中、賀茂鶴は、酒米の最高峰を目指して20世紀前半に誕生したものの、栽培の難しさから幻となっていた「広島錦」の復活に成功。酵母も「賀茂鶴酵母」と呼ばれる、20世紀初頭に賀茂鶴で誕生した酵母を採用しました。そして、酒造りの重要なファクターとなる水も、周辺の賀茂山系の伏流水で。こうしてメイド・イン・ヒロシマを目指した結果、日本酒の味わいの特徴である米の旨みをしっかりと感じさせ、爽やかでキレのある酒「広島錦」ができあがりました。

蔵を訪れた日は、ちょうど今年の酒造り最終日。ひっそりと静まり返った蔵の中で、最後のひと搾りの出来立ての酒を、杜氏の椋田茂さんが真っ白な杯に汲み、テイスティングします。「爽やかな香り。マスカットのようですね」。手塩にかけて醸した酒の出来上がりに自信をのぞかせていました。

日本酒の売り上げが伸び悩み、廃業となる酒蔵も多い中、オール広島をめざす賀茂鶴。郷土愛こそがその挑戦の原動力です。次なる百年を見据えて……。

写真・伊藤徹也

Kamotsuru/ 賀茂鶴

URL:
http://www.kamotsuru.jp/

更新: 2018年5月15日

この記事が気に入ったら
「シェア」しよう

最後までお読みいただき、ありがとうございます

pagetop