TOPFOOD & DRINKS“Suigei” Makes Memorable Splash in Japan’s Contemporary Sake Industry

“Suigei” Makes Memorable Splash in Japan’s Contemporary Sake Industry

Suigei’s Daito 2020 is a premium sake fit for any occasion

By Lisa Wallin

From its impeccable range of sake, shochu and liqueurs to its name (which translates to “drunken whale”), Suigei Brewery Co., Ltd stands out. With a mission to create a more sustainable manufacturing process and aspirations to bring people together to share good food and good sake, Suigei has grand ambitions. With these factors working in synergy, we’re sure it’s only a matter of time before Suigei becomes a household name.

The Road to Drunken Whale Brewery

Suigei started as an Edo Period general store called Aburaya Chosuke in Kochi Prefecture. In 1872 it began its foray into sake brewing under the name Ishino Brewery. It wasn’t until 1969 that the company took on the tongue-in-cheek name Suigei, which was inspired by the late Edo Period lord of the Tosa Clan, Yodo Yamauchi. He was known for his love of liquor and sported the nickname Geikaisuiko (鯨海酔候), or Lord Drunken Whale of the Sea. The president at the time — current president Hirokuni Okura’s grandfather — hoped those drinking Suigei would find it a natural part of their daily life, just as the whale in the ocean considers sea water.

Suigei’s Originality

While most breweries considered food to be an important addition for their sake production, Suigei takes it a step further: their sake is brewed to act as the supporting character, with food in the starring role of the meal.

This is obvious in many of Suigei’s offerings, which are rich in umami and have a sharp finish, making it easy to pair with various dishes. The company’s high-end collection features a number of high-quality craft Junmai Daiginjo, which use rice milled to only 30-40 percent of its original size. For reference, rice needs to be milled a minimum of 50% to qualify for Junmai Daiginjo status. Milling it more removes excess proteins and lipids that can cause unwanted flavors, but it is a time-consuming and laborious process, so many breweries won’t go that far.

Daito — Suigei’s Flagship Premium Brand

The Daito Junmai Daiginjo started in 2016 as Suigei’s luxury flagship brand. Daito 2020 — this year’s limited-edition sake released on November 18 — has a deep aroma, and a mellow, well-balanced, multi-layered flavor. Each Daito edition features a unique label design, with different artists taking on the role each time. Makoto Tanijiri designed Daito 2020, viewing the challenge from a different angle to his predecessors. According to him, previous designs had reflected Daito’s clean flavor by portraying bright colors. He decided to go a different route and created a subtler image to let the sake speak for itself. That way, Daito 2020 can be used as an attractive accent to your home. Whether you use it as a candle holder, bookend, vase or upcycle it into a storage container, Tanijiri’s design will ensure Daito 2020’s charm lasts long after the last drop of sake is gone. 

Daito 2020 Pairing Suggestions

Because Daito 2020’s flavor profile is in a sweet spot between sweet and dry, and light and rich, it’s a versatile sake that is excellent paired with most foods. Some suggestions include parboiled baby back ribs, shrimp cocktail, shabu shabu and most cheeses. 

Essential Info

Want to try Suigei’s selection for yourself or find out more? Here are the details:

Suigei Brewing Co., Ltd

Address: 566-1 Nagahama, Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture
Tel: 088-841-4080
Web: suigei.co.jp/en


All photos by: toha. Pairing food by Naoko Tanijiri (HITOTEMA)