Known since ancient times as the land of the ninja, Iga is also the town that is home to Moriki Shuzō in the prefecture of Mie. Located in central Japan, Mie faces the Pacific and lies between the cities of Nagoya, Ōsaka and Kyōto. The Mie coastline extends over 1000 kilometers and contains beautiful rugged coasts and beautiful scenery. Mie is rich in nature, and as such over one-third of its area is designated as nature reserves and parks.
Rumiko Moriki is the 4th generation of her family to own the brewery, and along with her husband Hideki, they are not only the Kuramoto [Brewery Owners] of this tiny brewery, they are also the Tōji [Master Brewers] of their hand crafted sake. The first generations of the Moriki family had always employed a Tōji to create their sake, but during Rumiko's parents generation, times were financially difficult and so out of necessity her parents started working alongside the Tōji to make their sake. When Rumiko's father was unable to continue working at the Kura about 25 years ago, Rumiko and Hideki, who had recently married, stepped in and started working alongside the Tōji instead. Nine years later Rumiko and Hideki became the Tōji themselves. It was at this time that they committed to making only Junmai [Pure Rice] sake, at the highest level they could achieve. 15 years later the Hanabusa, Tae no Hana and Suppin Rumiko no Sake are the quintessence of their dedication to top quality brewing.
Nearly all work in the Moriki Shuzō is done by hand, the same way their sake has been made for centuries. Rumiko's motto is "a lot of hard work in the making of the best quality sake she can, means being honest to her customers". It is truly a remarkable brewery with a wood fired boiler being used to steam the rice, wooden vats full of steamed rice are carried on the Moriki’s and their workers shoulders, including up wooden planks to get the rice into the fermentation tanks. About 25% of their sake production is from their own organically farmed rice, and the rest is sourced from areas that specialise in the particular rice variety that will produce the best result for the style of sake they wish to brew. The Moriki’s still use Yeast Strain #6 in their sake which is very unusual nowadays, along with allowing wild yeast to start ferment in many of their sake.
The Moriki’s produce an Arabashiri version of each sake they create, which is always unique to see bottled. Most sake is made by pressing the freshly brewed sake, which extracts the most amount of liquid out of a brew for bottling. In the case of Arabashiri however, cotton sacks are filled with the freshly brewed sake [so liquid and solids together] and are layered on top of each other inside a traditional wooden press called a fune. Instead of pressing the sake they let the liquid slowly seep out due to the natural weight of the contents of the sacks.