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This stunning guide invites you into the story of sake, an ancient beverage finding its way in a modern world.

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This stunning guide invites you into the story of sake—an ancient beverage finding its way in a modern world.

Whether you're a sake novice or an experienced connoisseur, Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake offers fascinating insights, practical tips, and rich stories about this popular beverage.

Authors and experts Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay personally undertook the challenge of visiting 35 artisanal sake breweries in Japan, the US, and Canada to interview makers and document every stage of the sake brewing process. Nancy's celebrated journalistic background combined with Michael's sake sommelier experience has led to an engaging and informative look at the world of sake.

With over 300 colour photos and a lively narrative, this fascinating book provides:
  • A comprehensive introduction to the science and history of sake brewing in Japan
  • A look at how fine craft sakes are brewed today using traditional methods and no additives—only rice, water, koji, and yeast
  • Histories of Japan's venerable breweries, some of them over 300 years old!
  • An answer to why some breweries can turn out superior quality of sake
  • A discussion of rice varieties and the contentious topic of terroir in sake making.
  • Current trends in the world of sake, including the fine sakes now brewed outside Japan
  • Tasting notes and recommendations for top craft sakes you have not heard about yet
This book also includes personal recipes from several top Japanese sake-brewing families, along with food-pairing tips and a chapter on the authors' own Japanese sake-bar-going adventures.

About the Author:

Michael Tremblay is a Sake Samurai, and Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certified Educator residing in Toronto. He is the Sommelier at ki modern Japanese + bar, a Japanese restaurant with Canada's most extensive sake programs. He is the Founder of the Sake Scholar Course, a certification course that explores the regionality of sake. @mtrsake

Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sake, food, agroecology, and Japanese arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Toronto Globe and Mail, Food and Wine, and theAtlantic.com. She is the editor of By the Shore of Lake Michigan, an English-language translation of Japanese tanka poems, and a contributor to several other books and publications. The holder of three sake certifications, she divides her time between Toronto and New York City. Find her at nancymatsumoto.com and @NancyMatsumoto.

John Gauntner is recognized as the world's leading non-Japanese sake expert. A longtime Japan resident, he is well known among sake brewers and others within the sake industry. He wrote the Nihonshu Column in the Japan Times for many years before writing a weekly column on sake in Japanese for the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's and the world's most widely distributed Japanese newspaper. In 2006, John received the Sake Samurai award, the first year it was awarded. He has published five books on sake.


This sake book, woven like a road movie, will be a landmark in the contemporary world of Japanese sake.
--Gen Yamamoto, bartender/owner, Bar Gen Yamamoto, Tokyo.

Bringing clarity and intrigue to a subject so many of us wish we knew more about, this book is one of the very best I've read on Japan's national drink. With incisive prose, a breezily accessible tone, and vivid graphics, it unlocks the mysteries of sake like few other books ever have. By weaving in fascinating aspects of sake culture and transporting interviews with renowned brewers, the book makes you feel like you are getting a glimpse into a secret, sacred world. It will forever change how you approach dining out in Japanese restaurants. Sake ignorance ends here.
--Mark Oldman, award-winning wine author and founder of Bevinars.

Michael and Nancy are fearless in their pursuit of capturing the essence of sake and are the best mouthpiece to tell its incredible story.
-- Beau Timken, author of Sake: A Modern Guide (Chronicle) and owner of True Sake, the first dedicated sake store outside of Japan

Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay do a fantastic job telling the story of craft sake and the people who make it, shedding light on a growing international phenomenon. -- Jean-Georges Vongerichten,

Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay have written a groundbreaking tome on sake that goes far beyond the scope of anything available in the English language. ...it's an exhaustive, artful study that appeals to anyone who shares the authors' respect and adoration for Japanese beverage culture and history.
-- Anna Lee C. Iijima, Contributing Editor, Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Sake literature lacks a benchmark, authoritative, yet accessible book for pros and generalists interested in this fantastic universe. That is until now. Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake is a great addition to the literature, able to transcend sake geekdom thanks to its strong cultural narrative. A must-read for Japan-lovers and sake-freaks alike!
-- Pascaline Lepeltier, Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, Best French Sommelier 2018

The something special found in this book is conveyed in three words: depth, breadth and vibrancy ...Like a great sake, this book is well balanced, with all the necessary elements clearly discernible.
-- John Gauntner, Author, The Sake Handbook and Sake Confidential, publisher of Sake Industry News, Co-founder of Sake World (sake-world.com)

Latest reviews

A new benchmark in sake literature
  • Authoritative, entertaining, and comprehensive.
  • None
While Japan's national beverage has been steadily losing ground in its home country, at least as far as annual output is concerned, it seems to garner a growing audience around the globe, with several breweries overseas attracting the attention of renowned Japanese brewmasters. It is no wonder that the last few years have seen the publication of several exceptional books dedicated to sake, and each of them appeared to be the ultimate authority on the subject. Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay raised the bar with this beautiful compendium that's insightful and exhausting to both the novice and those who have already embarked on their journey to sake wisdom.

The 256-page tome starts with a sake primer that covers everything you need to know: the definition of sake, sake rice, the importance of water quality, the brewing methods, grades and styles, serving temperature, tasting methods, storage, food pairing, and much more. Each topic is concise and accompanied by highly instructive imagery and graphics. This introduction alone is worth its money.

The actual book consists of two parts: Part I ("Rice, Water, Earth") is broken down into 14 chapters, each of which sheds light on crucial aspects of sake culture: on high-grade rice varieties such as Yamada Nishiki and Omachi and other heirloom rice strains, on the birth of Ginjō sake, on the mysteries and misconceptions behind rice polishing, on hard and soft water and the craze about the water of Nishinomiya called miyamizu, on terroir, and the latest trend, organic sake.

Part II ("The Alchemists: Yeast, Mold, Makers and Cooks") has nine chapters expanding on yeast makers, mould merchants, master brewers, and the new collectives with a short history of the famous sake gilds as well as an exciting glimpse on female master brewers such as Moriki Rumiko (of Moriki Brewery in Iga), Hino Mariko (of Shusen Kurano in Nagano), Okazaki Midori (of Okazaki Brewery), and several others. Today, some sixty female tōji are registered in the Women in Sake-Brewing Association. The book concludes with insights into Japan's sake bars and bartenders, a mouth-watering section on succulent recipes matched with their perfect sake, and a look at international sake brewers inspiring their Japanese counterparts.

Authoritative, entertaining, passionate, and full of vivid anecdotes - if there were one sake book I'd bring to the proverbial desert island, it would be this one.

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Additional information

Tuttle Publishing
Year of publication
10 May 2022
Number of pages
JPY 2,200

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