Most sake is pasteurised and diluted during brewing. But Funaguchi is “nama-genshu” sake, an untamed, punchy and rich style that undergoes neither of those processes. As this kind of sake is highly sensitive to sunlight, heat and air, it’s usually only available to buy as a special treat at the brewery. But in the 1970s, the pioneering chaps at Kikusui put their “brewery-only” sake into perfectly sized cans and gave the alcohol a little boost to protect it. In its little gold cup, Funaguchi Kikusui Ichiban Shibori has been an iconic sake in Japan ever since.
Full-bodied and with a cheeky little kick at 19%, this sake matures day-by-day. Packed with sweet, ripe fruit, a touch of toasted rice and an almost brandy-like richness, it can be sipped straight from the cold can, enjoyed on the rocks, or mixed into cocktails.
Established in 1881, Kikusui is a very humble brewery that has been built up slowly by five generations of the Takasawa family. The brewery itself has been destroyed twice by natural disasters, first by an earthquake and then they were washed away by a flood. But the Takasawa family refuse to let that get in the way of creating exceptional sake. You’ll find them north of Tokyo in Niigata. This prefecture is home to the Echigo School of Brewing and almost one hundred sake breweries. Sake making is so popular here because of the quality of the rice and the pristine water that comes from snowmelt.