Where Toku Saké is made

Toku Junmai Daiginjo saké is brewed in Asahikawa, Japan’s coldest city in Japan’s coldest prefecture, Hokkaido. In Asahikawa, winters are long and cold, with below-freezing average monthly temperatures from November to March. The city also sees an extraordinary amount of snowfall with Japan’s lowest ever temperature (−41°C) being recorded in Asahikawa. It is this cold climate that makes it ideal for brewing exceptional saké.

Though usually referred to as saké, the official name for saké is “Nihonshu” in Japan.

Where cold fires passion

Each winter, when temperatures regularly fall to -20°C, water is taken fresh from the Daisetsuzan mountain range, combined with highly polished Yamadanishiki rice and fermented in freezing conditions to keep it pure. Almost every day, the Toji (Master Brewer) visits to check its progress.

It is a slow, painstaking process designed to create a liquid of unparalleled flavour and quality. Using knowledge passed down through generations of Toji, slight changes to the conditions are made by hand and the mash gently stirred as the flavour of the saké gradually reveals itself. The resulting mash is pressed and stored raw at freezing temperatures before being filtered and stored at -4°C until it is ready to be bottled.

The resulting liquid is graded at the highest quality of saké – Junmai Daiginjo, polished to 35%. Increased rice polishing gives the final liquid a more refined and nuanced flavour profile, as it takes more flavour from the starchy heart of the grain, instead of the fats, vitamins and proteins closer to the surface.

Our Brewery Partner

Takasago Shuzo was founded in 1899 on the island of Hokkaido, in the city of Asahikawa. Originally founded by the Kohiyama family, the brewery was called Kohiyama Shuzo until 1965, when it became Takasago Shuzo, as it is still known today. Asahikawa was once known as the ‘Nada of the north’ due to many breweries based there, Takasago Sake Brewery is the oldest sake brewery in the area.

With an extremely cold and snowy environment, the conditions for saké making are perfect. The saké made by Takasago Shuzo benefits from the pure water coming from the snow melt of the Daisetsuzan mountain range. Toku Saké is proud to partner with this highly respected brewery, our collaboration began in 2022. Almost a century ago, in 1926, the Takasago Brewery received the first Gold Prize in Hokkaido in the “National Shinshu competition”. It was nationally acknowledged then as one of Asahikawa’s foremost saké breweries, and remains so.

The snowy exterior of Takasago Shuzo, home to Toku Saké's brewery partner in Hokkaido. The building is traditional Japanese in style and dates back to 1899. The road is covered in snow and the pathways bordered by snowdrifts.

Sustainability

Toku Saké has a continued commitment to the environment, Toku works with Treeapp to plant one mangrove for every bottle sold, sequestering far more carbon than the business produces in operations.

The Treeapp logo in white, against a dense forest background.

What is Treeapp?

Treeapp is a global tree planting organisation, operating sites across the world. They strive to make a positive environmental, social and economic impact by planting trees in countries where they are needed the most. They plant 200+ different species of tree across 5 continents.

Treeapp is a global tree planting, B-Corp certified organisation, operating sites across the world.

Treeapp has received recognition from Sir David Attenborough and has been recognised by international media for its positive impact.

A smiling man from Treeapp with two saplings ready for planting. In the background are more trees.

Why Mangroves?

Mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs work interdependently to create healthy coastal ocean system, restoring marine health and providing habitat for many species, such as sharks, cuttlefish and turtles.. The dense swamps are also an important source of “blue carbon” – carbon stored specifically in marine ecosystems. They store up to 3x more carbon than tropical forests, making them essential in the fight against global climate change.

Treeapp are currently planting mangroves in several locations across the Lombok island in Indonesia. As of 2023, Treeapp has planted more than 15,000 trees in Lombok. The survivability rate in their sites reaches 90% , which is an excellent indicator of the healthy and sustainable approach that the local planting team is taking when developing the projects.

How do you drink Toku Saké?

Toku’s Hokkaido heritage and superb complexity are best highlighted when served chilled, straight from the fridge at around 5°C. Our rarified Junmai Daiginjo can be enjoyed like fine white wine, so we recommend stemmed glassware and consideration of temperature variation from fridge to glass.

How is Toku Saké best served?

To best enjoy Toku Saké, we recommend to serve in a wine glass at Yukihie, the Japanese word for 5°C or Snow Cold, an apt name given our home and production. This not only helps showcase the beautiful aromas in the glass but also, at this temperature, elevates the wonderful delicate palate of this super premium saké. A serving size of 40ml ensures that the liquid remains cold as you enjoy it.

Toku Tasting Notes

AROMA

Delicate, inviting aromas of honeydew melon and peach complemented by creamier notes of baked apples, fresh bread and slow-cooked plums.

PALATE

Light, but wonderfully silken with a round mid-palate. Nuanced Ginjo flavours that segue into a chalky palate reminiscent of Grand Cru Champagne.

FINISH

The finish is sumptuously long. Well-balanced acidity gives way to gentle spice, whilst subtle yet developed umami provides structure and weight. Medium body with a persistent finish.

Enjoy Toku with our low abv saké cocktail recipes

Saké Types

this indicates that the Saké has been polished to at least 70% and no neutral alcohol has been added to the Saké. 

Regarded by many as the finest type of saké Junmai Daginjo is the highest grade of Junmai saké

Toku Junmai Daiginjo features Yamada Nishiki rice, the best quality rice with which to make saké, polished to 35%, koji and spring water from Hokkaido’s Daisetsuzan mountain range.

Indicates that the rice has been polished down to at least 70% of its original size

Indicates that the rice has been polished down to at least 60% of its original size

Indicates that the rice has been polished down to at least 50% of its original size

Indicates Cloudy Saké. Created by letting some of the fermenting material pass into the bottle by using a less fine mesh.

Undiluted Saké, sold at its naturally occurring strength of around 20%

Indicates that the Saké is unpasteurised.

Indicates that the Saké was  brewed in a special manner, or for example in the Kimoto style.

Fortified Saké in which some of the brewing water is replaced by already brewed Saké.

Aged Saké.

A Labour intensive technique for creating the moto yeast starting mash, leads to a Saké with a rich full flavour profile.

Saké drinking etiquette is rich in tradition and ritual.

In company, never serve yourself saké. It should be poured by your companion and the act of hospitality is to be returned as you pour for them. Use both hands when pouring and likewise when receiving.

Before drinking it is polite to wait until everyone has a full cup and someone has raised a toast, “Kanpai”.

Sip and savour your saké slowly. Respect and honour the care and craft that has gone into making your drink.