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- Product Specification of Geographical Indication "萩（Hagi）"
Ⅰ Matters relating the characteristics of liquor which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin
- (a) Characteristics of liquor
Generally speaking, seishu of Hagi is characterized by fresh flavor with rice-derived mellow and elegant umami and refreshing sourness.
The aroma is described as green bamboo and fresh green in addition to ripe banana, melon and litchi. Of seishu of Hagi, ginjo sake is also fragrant with fruits, such as apple and pineapple.
The aftertaste retains a certain level of umami with sourness, bitterness and a light alcohol touch, which does not affect the flavor of meals, and this sake has the quality that does not bore the drinker even after drinking several cups in a row.
Seishu of Hagi has refreshing flavor, which brings out the delicate taste of food when combined with ingredients with plain taste, such as whitefish and steamed fish paste, which are specialties of Hagi.
- (b) Essential attribution of its geographical origin to characteristics of liquor
- (1) Natural factors
The geographical origin of Hagi is situated in the northern part of Yamaguchi Prefecture, which is on the westernmost of the main island of Japan. The region has small land on the flat, surrounded by mountains at 400 meters or so above sea level with only its northern side facing the Sea of Japan.
This region is dotted with small lava plateaus created by the volcanic activity of the "Abu Volcanoes," and the Abu River, the Zomeki River, the Tama River and others flow between the plateaus following complicated patterns. Based on these lava plateaus that were eroded by the rivers, there are small tablelands in the mountainous area mainly in the Mutsumi area and the Fukuei area. These tablelands are made of clayey soil that has good drainage, where rice farming has been popular.
The climate is relatively warm partly due to the Tsushima Current, which is a warm current, in the Sea of Japan. Especially, in the mountainous area with striving rice farming, the difference in temperature among days from July to August is wide, which can be said to be suitable to mature rice production.
In this region, there are plenty of ejecta from volcanoes and volcanic rocks that were created when underground magma cooled and solidified, such as granite. As water necessary for sake-making, water here is low in mineral and soft and good in quality.
In the winter time, when sake is brewed, hours of sunlight shorten but precipitation is high, making the average humidity relatively warm, which can be thought to give a characteristic impact to sake-making in this region.
Thanks to the natural environment, seishu of Hagi, brewed from home-grown rice and with good water, has the quality that gives rice-derived mellow and elegant umami and refreshing sourness.
- (2) Human factors
In the downstream basin of the Abu River, flowing through the region, there is a delta in which the Hagi castle town was built by Terumoto Mori, a feudal lord, in the 17th century and developed as the base of the Choshu Domain.
The Choshu Domain was focused on increasing not only rice harvest volume but also production of regional specialties, such as salt and paper, for the purpose of improving its finances. In this region as well, paddy fields were cultivated, and steamed fish paste and others from catches of fresh fish from the Sea of Japan were produced.
Sake consumed in the developed Hagi castle town needed to be transported in by sea or through mountain passes due to its geographical factor of being surrounded on three sides by mountains. However, once rice farming started in environs of the Hagi castle town, sake-making was also commenced by using home-grown rice.
Sake-making technique was brought in by chief brewers from Otsu who lived in environs of the city of Nagato (former Heki-cho, Otsu-gun), Yamaguchi Prefecture, and a method for sake-making suitable to this region was gradually established.
Even today, engineers of regional brewers who learned zymurgy or zymology actively interact with Otsu chief brewers. The region verifies the high-level brewing technique of Otsu chief brewers with a scientific viewpoint and turns it into a technique that suits the environment of this region, thereby making efforts to maintain and improve the characteristic of Hagi.
In parallel, brewers have led an effort to make rice for sake-making that has low contents of protein in cooperation with local farmers since around 1990. Additionally, the "Hagi Sakamai Migaki (sake rice polishing) Cooperative," financed by brewers and local farmers, plays an role in securing ingredient rice with good quality through activities, such as establishing the "Hagi Sakamai Tosei (sake rice polishing) Factory," a facility for milling sake rice.
In this way, based on the tradition of farm to table, dating back to the Edo Period (from the 17th to the 19th centuries), a great number of not only liquor manufacturers and sake rice producers but also a mass of retailers, distributors and consumers take part in rice planting and rice harvesting, creating an atmosphere of the whole community engaging in sake-making.
Ⅱ Matters relating to ingredients and production method of liquor
- (a) Ingredients
- a.Rice and rice yeast for use must be chosen only from rice that is harvested within the scope of its geographical origin (Grade 3 or higher certified by Agricultural Products Inspection Act [Act No. 144 of 1951])
- b. Water for use must be taken only within the scope of its geographical origin.
- c. Ingredients for use must be ones specified as raw materials for "seishu" by Article 3, paragraph 7 of the Liquor Tax Act.
However, of raw materials for seishu specified by Article 2 of the Order of Enforcement of the Liquor Tax Act, no ingredients other than alcohol must be used (limited to the case of using alcohol when the weight of alcohol out of the ingredients does not exceed 50-100ths of the weight of rice (including yeast rice).
- (b) Production method
- (i) Sake must be one that was produced by the production method of seishu stipulated by Article 3, item 7 of the Liquor Tax Act and within the scope of its geographical origin.
- (ii) When sake is stored in the process of sake brewing, it must be stored within the scope of its geographical origin.
- (iii) Bottling must be completed with containers planned to be delivered to consumers within the scope of its geographical origin.
Ⅲ Matters relating to management for maintaining the characteristics of liquor
In order to use geographical indication (GI) "Hagi," the liquor that uses the GI is required to be confirmed by the following control body pursuant to guidelines for work implementation, prepared by the control body as to whether the relevant liquor satisfies "Matters relating to the characteristics of liquor which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin" and "Matters relating to the ingredients and production method of liquor" by the time the relevant liquor is shipped to places (excluding places subject to the provision of Article 28, paragraph 1, of the Liquor Tax Act) from its brewing place (including places deemed as brewing places with the permit to produce liquor by the provisions of Article 28, paragraph 6 or Article 28-3, paragraph 4 of the Liquor Tax Act [Act No. 6 of 1953]).
Name of Control Body: Hagi Region Geographical Indication Management Committee
1755-1 Ogoorikamigo, Yamaguchi-shi, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Ⅳ Matters relating liquor classes
Seishu / sake (Article 3, Item 7 of the Liquor Tax Act)