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18 Jul 2019 By

We Know Dassai Sake For Its Toto Numbers – 23, 39, 45 – But There’s More To This Premium Brand Than Just Its Junmai Daiginjo Range.

We met with Kazuhiro Sakurai, president of Asahi Shuzo Co (which owns Dassai), for an intimate masterclass, and find out that Dassai‘s success is more than the sum of its numbers.


45, 39, 23 ~ Their core range of Junmai Daiginjo sakes which the company has been making for over 100 years. The numbers indicate how much of the rice is milled off. The smaller it is, the more ‘essence’ of the rice remains, and the resulting sake is thus purer and more complex. 

1 ~ The company only uses one type of rice – Yamada-Nishiki – specially grown to produce aromatic sakes. It is still being brewed in a small village (nestled between mountains) in Yamazaki, after all these years.

2,000 ~ kg, the amount of koji hand-made by 20 staffers every day.

38-40 ~ degree celcius of the room where the koji is made.

5 ~ degree celcius of the fermentation room all year round.

10,000 ~ kg of rice that’s washed everyday.

700,000 ~ Cases of 720ml bottles sold per year. (Yes math nerds, that’s 8.4 million bottles a year.)

120 ~ Number of staffers at the brewery; almost twice as many as most major breweries.

dassai sake

2 ~ Times per month the company produces its super premium (uncategorised) Dassai Beyond. “We wanted something more than our usual sakes, we want to make better sakes each time,” says Sakurai-san (above), who still tastes every batch of sake produced, in all ranges. For Beyond, the tasting committee will decide if that particular batch is worthy of being trotted out. If they find it lacking, they’ll downgrade it for the 45, 39 or 23 range.

15 ~ The percent of rice left behind to make Beyond. The number varies slightly according to the rice. The sake has a lovely floral nose, with complex notes of peach and apples, and a long lingering finish.

650 ~ $650 is price of the Dassai Beyond. Available at Orihara Shoten, 11 Unity Street, tel: 6836-5710.

Erm, where does all the rice go after it’s washed?

Dassai rice cakes

Since you asked.

2020 ~ Dassai will have a brewery in Hyde Park, New York to produce sakes. It won’t be under the brand’s name, as the rice used will be a combination of its grain and American rice.

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