Situated in Kyushu, the land of shochu, Saga is the only prefecture there where sake brewing has thrived. With plentiful amounts of good quality rice and water, essential ingredients for sake brewing, Japanese sake is crafted there at a number of small breweries brimming with old-fashioned charm.
Saga has been blessed with the perfect ingredients for brewing sake for hundreds of years. One person who influenced the industry there was Naomasa Nabeshima, the 10th daimyo of Nabeshima Clan who was known as a benevolent ruler. Toward the end of the Edo period, he encouraged his people to sell sake instead of rice, with the aim of creating products with higher added value.
More recently, Saga's Appellation of Origin and Control System has been established, meaning that only sake brewed with 100% Saga Prefecture local ingredients and water, and recognized as having superior taste and fragrance in a biannual taste test, can be called "The SAGA certified Sake." This system creates competition between breweries, motivating them to aspire to even higher levels of quality. In the past few years Saga's sake has received a string of International awards, and its profile has risen dramatically both in Japan and overseas.
Finally, when traveling in Saga, make your toasts with Saga sake. There is actually an ordinance in Saga that stipulates Saga sake be used for toasts there. There is no penalty of course, but why not make the most of this unique rule.
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