4 Recommended Kyoto Sake Brands
There are many local liquors and beer from the Kyoto region. They're perfect for souvenirs of course but are also great for people who like liquor. Sipping Kyoto-brewed sake while gazing out at Kyoto's beautiful landscape might make it taste a little different.
Tama no Hikari is a brand with 340 years of history that is very particular about the rice, water, and malt used. Among their products, one that is particularly recommended is called Kokoro no Kyo. This Kyoto-only sake is refreshing and is 100% local liquor, using a type of Kyoto-grown brewer's rice called "iwai" (celebration). The label has art of the Tale of Genji on it, so just from looking at the label you'll feel Japanese-ness. It's a standard liquor to drink with meals, so please try it when you're having a nice dinner. They also have seasonal liquors, such as the winter-only Shiboritate and the summer-limited Hyouon Chozo Namagenshu. You can try Tama no Hikari liquors at various Japanese restaurants around Kyoto, so please try it if you get the chance. *The bottle in the photo is 720ml.
1. Tama no Hikari, for those who like refreshing drinks
Eikun is a sake that boasts a high-quality sake that is sold not just within Japan but also overseas. This is one of the liquors from Saitou Shuzo Corporation, a Kyoto brewery has won first-place in national sake competitions. Eikun uses water from the 7 wells of Fushimi and good rice that is prepared with care for a smooth flavor that deepens with time. The aroma is also high-quality and has a strong umami note to it that is superb. Ichigin, Suiten Ippeki, Izutsuya Ihei, and Koto Sennen are just a few of the representative products of the Eikun brand. They also sell a few brands that you can only buy at their company store, so please go directly there and see what you can find.
2. For those who want a fragrant, refined sake, try Eikun
For people who want to try sake and would prefer something smooth, Momo no Shizuku is a brand from Kyoto's Matsumoto Shuzo that is perfect. They have three products, Momo no Shizuku, Momo no Shizuku Aiyama, and Momo no Shizuku Shiboritate, and all of them are popular products. Momo no Shizuku uses high-quality rice and malt, the yeast used brings out a very refined flavor, and the slight fruit aroma matches perfectly with the sake. Momo no Shizuku Aiyama has a characteristic acidity that goes well with meats like steak at room temperature and foods like yakitori and kushikatsu when chilled. Momo no Shizuku Shiboritate has no acidity so you can enjoy a refreshing flavor. This brand also has seasonal products, so definitely look for it when you're in Kyoto.
3. People who have never tried sake before should try Momo no Shizuku
Shouchikubai is a brand that is very familiar to Japanese people, and it's been considered one of the best sake brands since the beginning of the Showa period (1926-1989). In modern times it's called "the sake of felicitations." The name Shouchikubai is made up of the characters for pine tree, bamboo, and plum, and they each mean something. Pine tree stands for stamina, bamboo is growth, and plum is vitality. This has lent this brand the image that this is something that should be drunk in auspicious occasions. The label's designed is also adorned with pine, bamboo, and plum. Takara Holdings, the company that owns the Shouchikubai brand, offers a product from the Shouchikubai Shirakabekura label called Mio, a sparkling seishu that's perfect for people who aren't used to drinking sake. As a new kind of sake, Mio is particularly popular with women. It's soft but sweet with just enough carbonation to match perfectly. You can drink it casually with the feeling that you're drinking champagne.
4. Perfect for souvenirs! Shouchikubai Shirakabekura's Sparkling Sake, Mio
When you go to Kyoto, definitely check these brands out and find your favorite.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.