Talk about sake
“Wataribune”-The Story of Revived Sake Brewing RiceIn 2006, a sake was released with the label that was cut in the middle and sealed on the bottle. It was Miyosakae Junmaiwataribune, which had 17% alcohol by volume and 75% polishing ratio, bringing out the best of rice to create a rich taste. It was brewed by using sake rice Shiga Wataribune No.6, which once disappeared but made a comeback.
Shiga Wataribune was born in 1895. Shiga Agricultural Experiment Station (currently known as Shiga Prefecture Agricultural Technology Promotion Center) ordered Omachi sake rice grown in Fukuoka Prefecture and named it as Wataribune. Through the pure-line selection, Shiga Wataribune No.6 was finally approved and started to be grown mainly in Konan region as a recommended variety of Shiga. It used to be such an environmentally sustainable local variety that it was exported overseas to become California rice. However, because of weak resistance to disease and insects, the production gradually decreased and eventually it was no longer cultivated after 1959. Then in 2003 Wataribune emerged again. It was due to JA Green Omi Brewer’s Rice Subcommittee, which, driven by the request of client brewers, raised their voices that they wanted to create Wataribune as the father of the king of sake rice Yamadanishiki. In 2004, they received approx. 50 grams of the seeds that had been preserved at the Shiga Prefecture Agricultural Technology Promotion Center and then Akihiro Sawa, the chairman of the subcommittee, started growing the seeds in around 9.9m2 paddy fields. In 2005, the trial cultivation and brewing aptitude showed excellent results that it had the level equivalent to the standard value of Yamadanishiki. This successful sake is the one mentioned at the beginning. The seal cut in the middle means the pleasure and respect toward the revival of sake after 50 years. In 2006, with the yield of 21 tons, 8 brewers in Shiga signed up for use of Shiga Wataribune No.6. The number of brewers increased to 13 in 2020 so that the rice has become essential sake rice in Shiga.