Ogasawara Mirin is located in Hekinan City, Aichi Prefecture, an area well-known for its long history (over 200 years) of producing Mikawa Mirin. This region is known for its mild climate, high-quality rice, and excellent water. Taking full advantage of its small production system, this long-established company works ever so carefully to produce genuine, hand-made mirin.
Ogasawara’s Production Process
Certain rules need to be followed to produce good-quality ‘Mikawa’ mirin.
1. Use only domestically produced rice;
2. Use hand-made rice malt;
3. Let the sediment settle naturally; and
4. Do no use any form of heat treatment.
The labor-intense fermentation methods still used by the Ogasawara family are steeped in the history and culture of pre-industrial Japan. More than a process, the family's work represents a way of life that, like Mikawa Mirin, is rare in the modern world.
Koji Making - Rice is polished, soaked and steamed before being sprinkled with Koji-kin (Aspergillus Oryzae) and left in the Muro (hot Koji room) over two nights to inoculate.
Mirin-Moromi - Mochi rice (glutinous rice) is soaked and steamed. After cooling locally distilled Shochu, the Koji-rice and more Koji-kin are added and this ‘Mirin-Moromi’ is placed in a large enamel tank and left to ferment for 3 months.
Pressing - once ready the ‘Mirin Moromi’ is placed in porous bags and pressed in a traditional wooden press (Fune).
Ageing - Once pressing is complete the Mirin is returned to the enamel tank for ageing and in the case of ‘Isshi Soden’, aged for approximately 4 years.
Manufacturers that follow the above rules are able to produce a mellow, sweet mirin that, being good enough to drink on its own, is able to bring out the best in the food it is used with. Unlike mirin made using artificial sweeteners, which produce a heavy sugary taste, Isshi Soden has a light, mellow sweetness that is light on the tongue, delivering a taste that is only possible when using Koji-rice in the fermentation process.