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- Product Specification of Geographical Indication “新潟 (Niigata)”
Seishu / Sake
Ⅰ Matters relating the characteristics of liquor which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin
- (1) Characteristics of liquor
In general, the seishu of Niigata has light and tasteful quality.
The aroma rising from a glass has gentleness as if it came from a morning mist and tastes like smooth and easily melting light snow in the mouth. Slight sweetness brought out from rice mixes with other elegant umami, giving aftertaste and going away.
Such sake that has clean taste with less miscellaneous flavor is called light-bodied sake.
- (2) Essential attribution of its geographical origin to characteristics of liquor
- a. Natural factors
Niigata Prefecture is located almost in the center of the Sea of Japan coast in Honshu, with Asahi Mountains, Iide Mountains, Echigo Mountains, on the east, and Mt. Myokosan and other mountains, on the west, having abundant water resources from many rivers flowing down to the Sea of Japan, including Shinano River and Agano River, which water quality is generally soft.
Moreover, in Niigata Prefecture, although it snows a lot, and hours of sunlight are short in winter, temperatures do not get extremely low even in a season of severe cold, and a temperature difference between day and night is small. The stable and moderate low temperature brought by snow creates the ideal environment for the action of microorganisms, such as koji mold and yeast, used for sake brewing.
The use of this abundant water as good brewing water and the climate with a small temperature difference between day and night have combined to produce the light-bodied sake of Niigata.
- b. Human factors
Niigata Prefecture where vast and fertile lands such as Echigo Plain and Takada Plain spread is one of the richest grain-yielding areas in Japan. In the Edo period, it was flourished as a port of call for Kitamae-bune (a cargo vessel), and rice produced here and its processed product seishu were transported to various places.
In the middle of the Edo period, farmers in Niigata went to work in other regions during the agricultural off-season and acquired sake brewing skills under the guidance of sake brewers in the western part of Japan, including Tanba and Tajima, and then, they devised sake brewing techniques suitable for climate, natural features, water quality and rice quality of various lands, which resulted in creating a group of Echigo sake brewers who would play a role of sake brewing at sake breweries throughout the nation, due to their skills and diligence.
In 1930, the Niigata Prefectural Institute of Brewing, the only prefectural research institution for seishu in Japan as an independent institution, was established, which theorized accumulated excellent sake brewing techniques of Echigo sake brewers, and the Niigata Seishu Study Group, a group of engineers from respective companies, tackled a variety of research tasks relating to the improvement of sake brewing technologies, and thereby developed a technology that enables production of high quality seishu from raw material rice of various qualities and conditions.
In order to respond to a problem of decreasing sake brewers that would hinder the succession of production technologies, the Niigata Sake Brewers Association formed the "Niigata Sake Brewing Technology Study Group" as a place for cross-company information exchange and study, in addition to the establishment of the nation's first "Niigata Sake School" to develop sake brewing technicians, and kept making efforts for the improvement of skills required on site as well as the awareness raising for ideas of sake brewing, such as traditional sake brewing techniques, transmission of culture, and preparation and attitude required for sake brewing.
Based on such technical support, they produced sake aiming at the quality of sake suited to the trend of westernization of Japanese lifestyle and food culture which had been changing in the modern period. As a result, a characteristic of the seishu rooted in Niigata is light-body, which has achieved name recognition nationally, and this characteristic has been maintained.
Ⅱ Matters relating to ingredients and production method of liquor
In order to use geographical indication "Niigata," the following must be met:
- (1) Ingredients
- a. The only rice and rice koji that can be used must be rice produced in Japan.
- b. The only water that can be used must be collected in Niigata Prefecture.
- c. The only seishu ingredients that can be used must be the ones specified in Article 3-7 of the Liquor Tax Act (Act No.6 of 1953). However, among ingredients of seishu specified in Article 2 of Order for Enforcement of the Liquor Tax Act, nothing other than alcohol (limited to the case that alcohol is used when the weight of alcohol does not exceed 50% of the weight of rice (including koji)) can be used.
- (2) Production method
- a. Seishu must be brewed in Niigata Prefecture in the seishu brewing method, specified in Article 3-7 of the Liquor Tax Act.
- b. In the process of sake brewing, sake must be stored in Niigata Prefecture.
- c. Bottling shall be completed with containers planned to be delivered to consumers, in Niigata Prefecture.
Ⅲ Matters relating to management for maintaining the characteristics of liquor
In order to use geographical indication (GI) "Niigata," 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 related to characteristics of liquor attributable to the production place of liquor" and "Matters related to the ingredients and brewing methods 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: Niigata Sake Brewers Cooperative Association
Address: 292-2, Higashinakadori, 2 bancho, Chuo-ku, Niigata City, Niigata
Ⅳ Matters relating to liquor classes
Seishu /sake (Article 3, Item 7 of the Liquor Tax Act)