Japan is recognized as “the paradise of drinkers”. The atmosphere of dissuasion, the rich selection of alcohol, and the generally low alcohol level make it easy to enjoy the happiness brought by alcohol.
On the Japanese wine table, whether it is a man or a woman, the amount of wine is large and the amount of wine is small, as long as you are an adult, you can decide what to drink and how much to drink. Each restaurant’s wine list and each “super business” liquor area also have a rich selection of beverages, from fruit juice wine to spirits.
However, the degree of alcohol commonly consumed by Japanese people is usually 3% to 10%. Even spirits like whiskey are mostly diluted to such a degree. As long as they are not allergic to alcohol, most people can have a drink or two.
The amount of alcohol in Japanese is generally not high, and drinking is mostly mixed, and the overall drinking atmosphere is very relaxed. But it is in this unfettered environment that he drinks a lot. The WHO Global Health Watch database shows that Koreans over the age of 15 drink an average of 10.9 liters of wine per year, which is the undisputed “Asian Wine King”. The Chinese who seem to drink very well actually only drink 7.6 liters per person per year, ranking fifth in Asia. The Japanese who didn’t seem to drink too much drank 7.5 liters, followed by China.
When it comes to Japanese liquor, the first Chinese will think of sake.
Sake’s Japanese name is “Japanese sake”, which shows its status as a national sake. But in the daily life of modern Japanese, sake does not appear often.
In the early days, sake was royal wine, and it was mostly used in religious ceremonies, grand celebrations and other occasions. The sage was a royal prince and aristocratic samurai, and later it was introduced to the people and became a national wine. Before the Meiji Restoration, drinking alcohol in Japan meant drinking sake, but later, it was not.
The Second World War led to insufficient supply of rice in Japan, and the quality of sake also dropped significantly. In order to make money, many wine merchants exchange edible alcohol into sake. Sake of poor quality is gradually being eroded by alcoholic beverages such as shochu, beer, whiskey, and red wine.
In the 1990s, sales of sake have fallen to only 15% of the Japanese alcoholic beverage market, but now less than 10%. The reason is that the price is very important.
Sake requires grinding 70% of the surface of high-quality rice, and only the core of rice can meet the requirements.
Sake brewing has high requirements for rice, water quality, koji, time, temperature, etc. due to its adherence to traditional techniques. For example, sake requires grinding 70% of the surface of high-quality rice, and only the rice core can meet the requirements; yeast needs to be designated by the Japan Brewing Association; water quality is also critical, and it must be unpolluted natural groundwater.
A typical glass of wine (around 500ml) costs 300 to 500 yen, while a small bottle of sake (300ml) costs thousands of yen.
The sake brewing industry believes that the thinner the rice is, the more the rice can be removed, and the brewed sake is more refreshing. If you want to control the milled rice rate to a very low value, you can’t rely on the milling machine to deal with it. Therefore, the polished rice rate reflects the labor cost of a wine input and becomes an important indicator of the quality of sake.
For example, the common “Da Yin Brewing”, the milled rice rate is required to be below 40%. And the polished rice rate of the white rice we eat daily is about 90%, which means that only 10% of the skin is removed from the black rice.
These various requirements make the sake quality high, but the production cost is high, and the price remains high all the year round. A small bottle (300ml) is about thousands of yen (about 65 yuan).
Such prices have gradually made sake lose its mass market, unpopular among young people, and finally reach the point of lack of attention. Today’s sake only appears in celebrations and banquets, and it has become a high-end liquor that tastes high-class Japanese cuisine and is only tasted when you taste sushi.
In addition to the national essence of sake, Japanese whiskey may be the most popular wine in the world in recent years. No matter whether it is “Yamazaki”, “Hakushu”, or “Sound”, which has won the highest international award, whisky made in Japan has never lived up to the “Made in Japan” golden sign laid down by its predecessors.
Whiskey is not a traditional product of Japan, but the essence of island culture is to crush and degrade imported products to reshape the flesh. China has a tea-drinking culture, but after being sent to Japan by the Tang Dynasty, the art of tea ceremony has become a Japanese tradition. The Yamato nation has always performed exceptionally well on the road of “imitation and transcendence.” The rise of whiskey also follows the same old path.
Speaking of the founders of the Japanese whisky industry, two key figures must be mentioned: Takehiko Takeru, the founder of Nikka, and Norihiro Torii, the founder of Suntory.
In 1918, under the support of Tori Nojii, Takeru Tsuyaka went to Scotland to study whiskey brewing. Two years later, Zhu He, who returned from his studies, joined Yamazaki Distillery, the first whisky distillery in Japan created by Tori.
The whiskey produced in the early days of the Yamazaki Distillery strictly followed the Scottish tradition in all aspects: direct fire heating distillation, aged North American white oak or European oak barrels, and malt raw materials were imported directly from Scotland, and even water was used in Scotland. Whiskey produced in this way is quite Scottish in style and emits a smoky smell of peat. However, Japanese consumers at that time could not agree with this flavor, and the market was not well sold.
Finally, the two parted ways because of their disagreement. It is very inconvenient for the perfect bamboo crane to choose the geographical location, but the latitude, climate and population density are similar to that of Scotland, Hokkaido. It founded today’s Nikka, which produces barrels of barrels of Scottish whiskey.
Suntory carried out localization transformation and began to develop a balanced and soft taste that Japanese people prefer. In order to increase the local color, Suntory is constantly experimenting with not only barrels that have been filled with plum wine, but also barrels made of expensive Japanese oak water 楢.
Now, when it comes to Japanese whiskey, “expensive” is the first reaction of many people. In fact, it was not so expensive, but the subsequent appearance in the international selection made these brands blockbuster.
In 2001, at the “King of Kings” blind tasting competition held for the first time by the British professional magazine “Whiskey”, Nikka from Japan “Yu Shi” for 10 years and Suntory’s “Sound 21 Years” won the overall first and second place. , Shocked the whisky lovers all over the world. In 2003, Suntory’s “12 Years of Yamazaki” won the gold medal in the International Spirits Challenge. One year later, the manufacturer’s “30 Years of Sound” won the same competition again.
The success of international awards has greatly increased the value of Japanese whiskey and increased demand. However, there was a wave of winery closures in the 1980s in Japan, resulting in few whisky distillers in Japan. In short supply, Japanese whiskey has become like “Maotai”.
After talking about Japanese whiskey, let’s talk about Japanese beer. Chinese people are very familiar with Japanese beer, on the one hand because the price is readily available, on the one hand because there are still too few famous brands that can compete with Japanese beer in taste.
There are four major Japanese beer giants-Suntory, Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo. Different tastes, each brand has its own loyal fans. As far as I am concerned, Kirin and Suntory drink the most, and I feel that these two flavors are the most mellow.
All kinds of beer area
In terms of sales, Asahi Beer is the leader in the Japanese beer industry. It has a 40% share of the Japanese beer market and is the only brand in Japan with annual sales exceeding 100 million cases. Asahi Beer’s emergence in 1986, when the company decided to let customers choose the beer they like to drink, began a large-scale market survey, with a sample of more than 5,000 people.
Sapporo beer is not common in China, but its sub-brand “Ebisu” is particularly famous-it is the kind of beer that I will choose when I want to be extravagant today and want to reward myself with a braised egg. Especially the “Ebisu Premium”, which uses 100% malt as a raw material, has a very strong taste, and it is full of wheat flavor.
Many Japanese products have a characteristic: the market segmentation has achieved the ultimate. Beer is no exception. In the beer section of Japanese supermarkets, there are a wide range of beers, what kind of squeezing, what golden wheat, what super dry, what light, what premiere, what free, especially gimmicks. With different tastes and beautiful cans, people can’t help but buy each one to try it.
When I was in Japan, I really did something like this-the amount of 3 cans of beer a day, after drinking for two weeks, I finished the common drink in the market. Even so, beer manufacturers are constantly innovating.
It can be said that the Japanese always spare no effort in product development. Many people even have concerns about the beer’s alcohol, high sugar, high purine and other characteristics. They don’t drink beer, and in order to satisfy those who have health problems but can’t help it, major breweries have launched sugar-free , “Cales” without calories and alcohol.
All in all, in Japan, if you want to drink, there is always a perfect way to drink without worries.