Keigetsu | Japan

Keigetsu Property in the Kõchi Prefecture of Japan

Since 1877, the family-owned Tosa brewery has made sakes in the picturesque, mountainous region of Tosa Reihoku in the Kochi prefecture. Today, the family’s sixth generation Muneki Matsumoto manages production, in the original 140-year-old brewery building. The ‘KEIGETSU’ range derives from the Japanese term, ‘Keigetsu’ describing the beautiful evening scene created when the moon hangs over nearby Katsurahama shore. It also pays homage to the famous novelist Keigetsu Omachi from the Meiji era (between 1868 and 1912), who loved Japanese sake and travelling.

The KEIGETSU sakes are made from the organically grown, local rice varieties Akitsuho, Gin-no-Yume and Yamadanishiki. Akitsuho is a rare table rice variety grown in only two mountainous regions in Japan. The sake-specific rice variety Gin-no-Yume is a crossing of Hinohikari and Yamadanishiki, specially developed for the Kochi prefecture. Hinohikari is a table rice variety native to Kochi and was traditionally used to brew sake before popular sake-specific rice varieties, such as Yamadanishiki, were developed. Mr Matsumoto believes that his local rice, grown within twelve kilometres of the brewery, is best suited to the Tosa Reihoku region because it thrives on the brewery’s terraced rice paddies at 300 – 600 metres above sea level. Here, the remote location and elevation create a high diurnal range, as well as a completely clean, natural environment, which lends itself well to premium rice farming.

Due to its cool climate and pure water, running from the source of the Yoshino River, the Tosa Reihoku region is also renowned for the quality of its yuzu fruit which is designated as Tosa Yuzu. This is similar to the European systems of designated origin which indicate exceptional quality and are tightly controlled. KEIGETSU produce a yuzu sake using organic fruit, grown and handpicked by Mr Matsumoto’s relatives. With 8% abv, this sweet sake is bursting with yuzu citrus fruit, similar to an intense mix of lemon, tangerine and lime aromas with a fragrant lift. The yuzu sake is crafted using Junmai sake, made by polishing rare Akitsuho rice down to 60% of its original weight. This is then blended with free run, hand-squeezed yuzu juice and sugar.

The ‘Gin-no-Yume Junmai Daiginjo 45’ is crafted from Gin-no-Yume rice with 45% polish. It has delicate aromas of lychee and rose while being dry on the palate and expressing great purity of fruit on the finish. The ‘Nature’ Junmai Daiginjo is made from Gin-no-Yume rice polished to 45%. It is brewed using the oldest sake starter method, Kimoto. This method uses natural lactobacilli and rice pasted by hand. The resulting sake has an elegant, pure nose of expressive stone fruit and white blossom, complemented by a well-balanced palate and long finish. The ‘Nature’ won the Junmai Daiginjo regional Kochi prefecture trophy, at the 2022 International Wine Challenge.

The ‘John’ Sparkling sake was made for Mr Matsumoto’s good friend John. The Junmai Daiginjo (50% polish) base sake is made with Gin-no-Yume rice before carbonation. The resulting sake is crystal clear with aromas of peach and cherry blossom on the nose, propped up by lively bubbles and a bone-dry finish on the palate. The range is completed by two premium aromatic sakes made with either Gin-no-Yume or Yamadanishiki rice, polished to half of its original weight. The multi-awarded `CEL24 Junmai Daiginjo 50` bears the name of a special yeast strain native to Kochi, which creates a highly aromatic pineapple and mango profile to this modern, enticing off-dry sake.

Winner of the Junmai Daiginjo Gold Medal, at the 2022 International Wine Challenge, the `Nigori Junmai Daiginjo 50` is a coarsely filtered version of the ‘CEL24 Junmai Daiginjo 50’. The fine rice particles give this silky sake a cloudy appearance while bearing bolder tropical and stone fruit aromas, which can withstand spicy foods and rich cheese pairings. In addition, KEIGETSU has recently released a new savoury, fuller-bodied Junmai sake. ‘Aikawahomare Yamahai-Junmai 58’ is made from 58% polished Gin-no-Yume sake rice, sourced from the best-terraced paddies, known as ‘Aikawahomare’. It is brewed with one of the traditional yeast starter methods called Yamahai, which utilises natural lactobacilli, resulting in a rich umami character and pronounced acidity. While the other KEIGESTU sakes are best served chilled, ‘Aikawahomare Yamahai-Junmai 58’ can be enjoyed chilled or warm.