A pink sake made for the gods - Izumo Kamba

Far from marketing gimmicks, the Izumo Kamba sake we're pleased to present today is a rosé sake deeply rooted in Shinto traditions and ancestral beliefs. Produced by Sakemochida Honten, a company we particularly appreciate, this is the story of a sake conceived as an offering to the deities.

Japanese sake Izumo Kamba

A region, gods and the birthplace of sake

Sakemochida Honten is a small family brewery based in Izumo, Shimane prefecture. This locality has been considered the birthplace of sake since the discovery of two 8th-century writings, the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. Indeed, they are the first texts to refer to this beverage in the famous episode of a battle that takes place in Izumo, at the end of which Susanoo no Mikoto defeats the fearsome eight-headed dragon after encouraging it to drink sake.

saka jinja temple

The base camp of the sake deity

Izumo is also home to the Saka Jinja temple, home to the sake kami. According to ancestral beliefs, Shinto deities would end their annual rendezvous by gathering here for a big, drunken party !

Mochida shacho and its toji in the brewery

The “Izumo Toji” guild

This is the crucible in which Sakemochida Honten developed. In more recent times, notably during the Meiji era, the brewery was one of the first to build on the scientific foundations established by the fermentation specialists of the day. It was also one of the first to set up its own laboratory, collaborating extensively with researchers to improve its methods. The local “Izumo Toji” guild was born.

Growing ancient Kodaimai rice in Japan

Sacred rice as an ingredient

At the archaeological site of Koujindani, in the Izumo Kamba region (Kamba literally meaning “garden of the gods”), an area dedicated to the cultivation of a very special dark-red rice, Kodaimai, was discovered. This rice was destined to become an offering in Shinto ceremonies. The place is blessed, so is the rice, and the few farmers who continue to cultivate this strain to this day were determined to make sake from it, always destined for the gods. A meeting with the Sakemochida brewery brought this idea to fruition, although the implementation proved more complicated than expected, as the Kodaimai grain has great difficulty liquefying in the fermentation process. In the end, it was a great success, and we hope you enjoy discovering and sharing Izumo Kamba sake.

Kodaimai rice and the chemical structure of anthocyanins

Anthocyanin, the source of pink color

Kodaimai rice is dark red because it naturally contains anthocyanin, a water-soluble polyphenol found in large quantities in flowers, vegetables such as eggplant, and fruits such as grapes and blueberries. This compound gives Izumo Kamba sake its distinctive color, a dark pink tending towards black, a deep, bewitching hue that's hard to capture in a simple photo.

bottle of Izumo Kamba sake

Tasting notes

The nose is delicate and fruity, evoking peach, wild strawberry and, surprisingly, rosé wine! The mouthfeel is supple, but quickly evolves into much more power and amplitude, with warmer, spicier notes. A sake with great impact, marked acidity, slight bitterness and almost tannic notes. The finish is long, with flavors slowly fading to a clean finish.

How to pair it ?

A powerful, rather dry sake to be enjoyed chilled (8°C), preferably during a meal, with grilled beef, shioyaki-style salted fish, salmon or fatty tuna sashimi.