Sake & Cheese


In my previous life as a Sommelier, one of the big questions I had early in my career was ‘how can I match a beverage to cheese in all of its wondrous variations?’ There was no simple answer - until I delved into the world of Sake. 

In my early years working in restaurants I had looked for the somewhat ‘classic’ approach to matching cheese - tannic red wine with cheddar, port wine with blue cheese etc. But I came to the realisation that these were examples of wines that only just stood up to the character of the cheese and obliterated some of more nuanced elements of both. After much Sake tasting and cheese sampling I realised that Sake really does come to the rescue by handling the big flavours in cheese without overwhelming the other elements that make cheese so delicious. Almost magnifying this delicious nature of the cheese.

To understand this more we have to understand something called ‘umami’. Both cheese and Sake are full of umami. Umami is the Japanese word combining umai (delicious) and mi (essence) and is considered the ‘fifth’ taste after sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Technically, umami refers to glutamate, a type of amino acid, which occurs naturally in many foods such as meat, fish, vegetables and various dairy products including cheese. 

In the production of Sake the protein in the rice is broken down leaving amino acids. The amount of amino acids depends on the length of fermentation and strength of the yeast (amongst other factors). The amino acids that remain give Sake its robust, gamey and often succulent flavour profile. 

With cheese long maturation enables more of the milk protein to decompose into amino acids, (think 2 year old Parmigiano-Reggiano vs fresh mozzarella as an example). This ageing plays an important part in the taste of cheese. 

These Amino acids, found both in Sake and cheese provide umami with its richness and savoury quality. This makes them pair well and compliment each other across a spectrum of styles and flavours. There is a certain ‘supporting’ element in matching Sake to cheese as if the Sake is there to highlight the flavour in the cheese without overpowering the more delicate elements.

So the next time you’re in search of the perfect match to a delicious wedge of dairy goodness, have a glass of Sake - I promise you wont be disappointed.


Posted on April 6, 2019 and filed under Food Matching.

Sake Dinner at Automata Restaurant


An intimate Sake Dinner at Automata Restaurant in Sydney, showcasing a range of artisanal Sake from Black Market Sake

Black Market Sake is excited to present an intimate Sake experience at Automata restaurant. Join host Matt Young from Black Market Sake as he demystifies this unique beverage alongside a 5-course menu from Clayton Wells and Automata Head Chef Sarah Knights.

A truly unique opportunity to experience first hand the quality of these artisanal products alongside an informative evening on the basics of Sake.

Seats are very limited - so please don't miss out!

Details: Black Market Sake Dinner

Tuesday 4th December ~ 6:30pm for 7:00pm

Automata ~ 5 Kensington Street, Chippendale, NSW 2008

5 Courses with matched Sake

Cost: $160 (+ booking fee)

Tickets available through the link below

(Seats are limited)

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Posted on November 16, 2018 and filed under Events.

KIMOTO: Traditional Yeast Starter

To understand Kimoto and how it effects the style or taste of Sake, we have to first look at the technique and history of making Nihonshu [Sake]. 

The words ‘Shubo’ or ‘Moto’ in Sake-making means the yeast starter or starter culture. This is where a small amount of the raw ingredients are combined to create this starter. Creation of the Shubo is to cultivate active yeast cells in a pure form in mass quantity. In modern Sake brewing this can be done one of three ways. The most common way of creating the starter is called Sokujo or the ‘modern’ method. The other two ways are both ‘traditional’ methods known as Kimoto and Yamahai

The Kimoto yeast starter method was developed early in the Edo period (1603-1868) and the other variation on this traditional approach to creating the starter, Yamahai, was born in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Both of these methods rely on cultivating lactic bacteria (which exists in the air, everywhere) to be included in the starter preparation. These lactic bacteria feed the yeast in the starter and produce lactic acid which prevents contamination from unwanted microorganisms. With the Sokujo method, lactic acid is purchased by the brewery and simply added in with the other raw ingredients. Essentially ‘feeding’ the yeast instantly and creating an acidic environment preventing spoilage from any unwanted microorganisms.

The Kimoto starter culture involves more microorganisms than the Sokujo version, therefore requires more technique and handling. It also creates highly alcohol resistant yeast which gives active fermentation even towards the end of the Sake brewing process, producing Sake with a rich and powerful taste.

Kimoto-starter making begins by mixing steamed rice and Koji (steamed rice that has been inoculated with the starch breaking mould Aspergillus Oryzae or Koji-kin) with a spatula inside a shallow tub called a Hangiri. Water is also added and mixed creating around 6 - 8 tubs with a total of 100kg of mix. These tubs then are mixed by using long bamboo poles in a process called Yama-oroshi. Where 2-3 brewery workers mix constantly for several minutes before stopping and repeating the process a few hours later approximately 3 - 4 times during the first day. The tubs are then progressively mixed together combining them over several days until the complete mixture is brought together. After another week the conditions are perfect for yeast to grow and in modern Kimoto-starter making a choice is made whether to add cultured yeast. If no yeast is added, strongly acidic yeast exisiting in the brewery (Kuratsuki kobo) will begin to propagate in the starter.

Before completion the Shubo will go through a 1 - 2 week conditioning period to further enhance the fermentative strength of the yeast. Then once ready the Shubo will be used to create the main fermentation mix and the Sake making process continues onto the next stages.

Sake made in the Kimoto method generally tend to be richer in taste and higher in acidity than those made using the modern Sokujo method. You as the drinker will find Sake that has a more savoury nose and palate along with a strong influence of acidity in along a similar vein with the acidity you find in yoghurt or cheese. These Sake are excellent young but also lend themselves to ageing in the short, medium or long-term. 

A truly unique and expressive variation of Nihonshu.

Posted on October 27, 2018 and filed under Kimoto.

SAKE MATSURI: Australia's Largest Sake Festival


Sake Matsuri is back on again in Sydney on October 20th. We are excited to be involved in Australia's first and largest Sake festival.

Come and try over 60 different varieties of Sake brought in from Japan by Australia’s best importers. Taste and embrace both new and traditional styles of Sake, from fine Junmai Daiginjo and Namazake to umami rich Junmai, and flavoursome aged Koshu Nihonshu.

All alongside awesome food and palate-cleansing Japanese beers.

Your ticket includes ALL Sake tastings plus a stemless Plumm wine glass to taste from and keep.

This is the first time SAKE MATSURI, Australia’s largest Japanese sake festival, will be held in Melbourne.

This festival runs over two sessions:

SAKE SESSION: 1pm till 6pm

Tickets are limited, so don't delay!



VENUE: The Commune, Waterloo

More information and tickets: HERE

Posted on May 30, 2018 .


Hiroshima prefecture lies in the middle of Chūgoku region on Japan’s main island Honshū.  Most of the prefecture consists of mountains leading towards Shimane Prefecture, and rivers that produce rich plains near the coast.  Many small islands are also included in this prefecture.  Hiroshima is well recognised as one of Japan’s top sake brewing regions and small craft breweries, many with very long histories, are scattered throughout the prefecture.  Of particular note is the small town of Saijō, east of Hiroshima city, which is famous for its many Kura [Sake Breweries] including Kirei Shuzō.  Saijō is considered one of Japan’s three major sake brewing areas alongside Fushimi in Kyōto and Nada in Hyōgo and its brewing tradition dates back to around 1650.  In the last 100 years in particular, the breweries in Saijō have really begun to flourish with premium brewing techniques being developed locally.

Kirei Shuzo (Brewery)

Kirei Shuzo (Brewery)

The town of Saijo is situated on an elevated basin-shaped plain surrounded by 300 to 500 meter-high mountains, which gives it ideal temperatures of around 4-5°C during sake brewing season.  The area is also blessed with an abundance of ideal sake brewing water, with one particular narrow strip of land having the purest water in the region. Nine of the ten sake breweries in Saijo, including Kirei Shuzo, have founded themselves in close proximity to each other along this strip of land, now known as ‘Sakagura Dori’ or ‘Sake Brewery Street’. Each Kura have created their own individually named water well to draw from, with the Maneki Well being the source used for sake production at Kirei.  As these eight breweries in the heart of Saijo share the same water source, and often with the same pure rice grown in the Hiroshima plains and mountains, it is particularly important to have a highly skilled Toji [Master Brewer] to create sake that is different from their neighbours. At Kirei the current Toji is Masahiro Nishigaki who is also the son of Kirei’s very famous former Toji - Nobunichi Nishigaki.  It is the current Toji, Masahiro, who is now taking Kirei Shuzo back to making premium Junmai sake, as he realised futsu-shu [or ordinary sake] is not the future of the sake industry.  Another of Nishigaki-san's main beliefs is that “If you make good koji you are 90% on the way to making great sake”.  To make this great koji, Nishigaki-san is using techniques like keeping the rice in the koji room for 72 hours instead of the more usual 48 hours, during which time it is checked at least every 2 hours by the Toji or by the specialist Koji room supervisor.  The maximum amount of rice in the koji room is 100kg, which is a very small quantity.  All of the sake we are importing from Kirei Shuzo is their small production Junmai sake made this way.


Posted on April 21, 2018 .

Sake Dinner at Provenance Restaurant

We are excited to announce a Sake Dinner at Provenance Restaurant in Beechworth on Friday 2nd December 2016. The delicious 8 course menu will be matched with some wonderful Sake from the Black Market Sake portfolio.

Provenance Restaurant in Beechworth has been at the forefront of the movement to introduce Sake to the modern Australian menu. The range of flavours and textures that Sake offers brings a whole new palate to the art of food and drink matching, and Sake is now an important, even crucial part of what Provenance Restaurant offers.

Michael Ryan, chef and owner of Provenance, will create an 8 course menu to highlight the ability with which Sake can work with food. 

Dinner starts at 7pm. The cost for the dinner is $220 (8 courses with matched Sake).


Black Market Sake & Provenance Restaurant - Sake Dinner

Friday 2nd December 2016

Provenance Restaurant & Luxury Suites

86 Ford Street, Beechworth, VIC 3747

Ph: 03 5728 1786

Posted on November 7, 2016 .

World Sake Day - Sale!

To celebrate World Sake Day on October 1st, we are offering 15% off all Sake across This offer runs from now until midnight on October 1st.

Our usual offer of free shipping on all orders over $300 still applies - just use the coupon FREESHIPPING2016 on checkout.

Don't delay and secure some amazing artisanal Sake to celebrate World Sake Day!


Posted on September 25, 2016 .

Akishika Shuzo - A humble star!

I often get asked what my favourite Sake is.

For us at Black Market Sake this is like asking which of your 'children' is you favourite - ALL OF THEM!

However if there is one person who epitomises real 'craft' in the Sake they produce, that person is the incredibly humble Hiroaki Oku - Kuramoto & Toji [Owner and Master Brewer] at Akishika Shuzo. When I make the trip to see Oku-san each year it undoubtably the one visit I most look forward to. He oversees the production of some of the most exciting and high-quality Sake available in the market in Japan and there are few who reach his elusive heights of elegance, complexity and ageability. 

It is with great pride that we are able to offer these exceptional Sake here in Australia.

Akishika Shuzo was founded in Osaka prefecture in 1886 and under Hiroaki Oku, the present 6th generation Kuramoto [Brewery Owner], this tiny brewery is creating some of Japan’s most exceptional and unique sake.  Oku-san is both Kuramoto and also Toji [Master Brewer] at Akishika and his belief and skill in creating quality sake shows in every bottle.  

Akishika Shuzo is one of only a handful of sake breweries that follow the ‘Château concept’ as we see in wine production with Oku-san contracting 20 local farmers to grow rice for his sake in addition to the rice he grows himself (over 25% of what he needs each year).  Two of these rice are the ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ of sake rice - Yamada Nishiki and Omachi.  Although Oku-san has grown all of his own rice organically for many years, from 2011 he has obtained certification for organic rice cultivation.

Oku-san only brews Junmai [pure rice] sake and as he doesn’t believe in carbon filtering his sake they are also all Muroka. All of the sake Oku-san creates are made with great structure, acidity and body and so are well suited to ageing.  Akishika Shuzo have 2 years worth of production ageing at any one time, a massive investment particularly for such a small brewery.  Oku-san only releases his sake when he believes they are ready. Sake from Akishika Shuzo have a cult status in the local area and also around Japan, so when Oku-san does release sake they sell out exceptionally quickly. We feel extremely privileged to enjoy them in Australia.

Hiroaki Oku - Kuramoto [Brewery Owner] & Toji [Master Brewer] at Akishika Shuzo

Hiroaki Oku - Kuramoto [Brewery Owner] & Toji [Master Brewer] at Akishika Shuzo

Posted on August 5, 2016 .

INTRODUCING: Fujiichi Shuzo

One of our most exciting recent discoveries, the 'Kikutaka' Sakes have arrived.

Fujiichi Shuzō was founded in 1870 and is located north-west of Nagoya in Inazawa City. The Toji [Master Brewer] here is Katsuaki Yamamoto, who took over the head brewer role in 2012. In the short time he has been Toji, Yamamoto-san has quickly placed Fujiichi Shuzo on the Sake ‘map’ with the creation of the ‘Kikutaka’ brand. With this range of products under the Kikutaka label he concentrates on creating Sake with a lot of umami and acidity. This is achieved by meticulous work in the Koji room, where he strives to have every individual grain of rice fully coated before being used in Sake production. This level of care and work ethic has ensured the ‘Kikutaka’ brand as being one of the most sort after in the growing domestic landscape of Sake appreciation.

We are excited to offer these amazing Sake in Australia for the first time and also the first country outside of Japan to receive these products as Fujiichi Shuzo have never exported before now.

Katsuaki Yamamoto - Toji [Master Brewer] at Fujiichi Shuzo

Katsuaki Yamamoto - Toji [Master Brewer] at Fujiichi Shuzo

Posted on July 31, 2016 .

Mental Notes - A wine party

We're excited to be part of Mental Notes - a wine party hosted by DRNKS and Mary’s. A tasting of epic proportions at the National Art School, in Darlinghurst on Saturday the 30th of April. You’ll have the opportunity to try over 100 wines from Australia and all over the world, as well as meet the people who make them and import them. In addition, you’ll also be able to sample some rare sake and even rarer spirits.
There’s food on the day, provided by Mary’s and the team from Icebergs, and The Unicorn will be running a bar for the duration of the event, so you can slide past for a beer or a glass of wine before, or after the tasting.

More details, and tickets, here -

On the day, you'll have the opportunity to try wines from..:
Shobbrook Wines, Jauma, Andrew Guard Imports, Si Vintners, Black Market Sake, La Sorga, Eric Texier, Ochota Barrels, Brian, Spirit People, Kindeli, Patrick Sullivan, Eurocentric Importers, Dr. Edge, Living Wines, Frederick Stevenson, Murdoch Hill, Vinous Imports, George McCullough Imports, Giovanni Armani Giorgio, Campbell Burton Imports, Good Intentions Wine Co., The Other Right, Xavier, Addley Clark Imports, Stoney Rise, Brash Higgins, Fratelli Paradiso Imports, Chapter Wines, Lo-Fi Imports...

Posted on April 21, 2016 .

Welcome to our new website!

Our brand new site is now up and running. Here you'll find information on all of our producers and their products, as well as having the ability to purchase these products directly from us. 

We have also added some basic information on Sake and a glossary of terms to help you navigate the complex world of Sake. But don't stress too much, if you have any specific questions please send us an email to and we'll do our best to answer any questions you might have.

Please be sure to sign up for the latest news & offers from us here at Black Market Sake.

Posted on April 21, 2016 .