Sake Hundred Gengai: Experience This Beautiful Vintage Sake Before it is Gone Forever
A Singular Sake
Sake Hundred’s Gengai is a one-of-a-kind sake recently featured in Men’s Journal because of its rarity and its inspiring back story of triumph coming out of tragedy. In 1995, the Sawanotsuru Brewery in Hyogo was destroyed by the devastating Kobe earthquake. Unfinished sake was left on-site in a tank—forgotten and left untouched until 2020.
Ryuji Ikoma, Sake Hundred’s founder, and his team discovered the sake and learned that it was not only good but exceptional. The extraordinary liquid boasted a complex flavor experience with bittersweet threads of caramel and cacao at the forefront, expanding midpalate with rich umami in a mellow, slowly fading finish. Delighted and amazed with this singular sake coming out of such a tragedy, Ikoma was determined to bottle it and make it available.
“Gengai is the epitome of vintage sake and a beautiful reminder that even unthinkable disaster can give birth to once-in-a-lifetime greatness,” says Ikoma.
“When searching for the perfect sake to launch our brand, I couldn’t have imagined discovering such a rare sake with a story of unimaginable resilience and fortitude. It’s a lesson I keep with me as I work to build a new category for sake in Japan and beyond.”
Each January, Sake Hundred does a limited bottling for the global allotment of only 500 bottles. Most bottles are quickly snapped up in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. However, this year 50 bottles were allocated to the US market for the first time ever.
The limited allotment of U.S. bottles are only available via online purchase or through private collector events. When it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
Sake Hundred’s Deliberate Portfolio
While Gengai may be an unintentional wonder, the rest of the Sake Hundred portfolio is very carefully and purposely composed from concept to bottle. When founding Sake Hundred, Ikoma envisioned a suite of products that reflected the vast range of sake styles made by Japan’s most inspiring breweries.
Because of his vast knowledge of sake and years of experience tasting hundreds of sakes, at breweries throughout Japan, Ikoma was deeply familiar with the special production styles and nuanced flavors of each.
But the vision was to go beyond what these extraordinary breweries already produced to create something new.
So he carefully and deliberately selected his brewing partners and then worked with each brew master to develop a sake that reflected their style and history but pushed these characteristics into a new flavor profile.
The result of working closely with Japan’s most inspiring breweries, is innovative sake that is driving a global evolution in sake consumption. The many awards and prestigious accolades won by Sake Hundred attest to the fact that Ikoma’s original vision and his partnership with outstanding breweries, is a resounding success.
If aged sake is not your style or the elevated price point of the rare Gengai is not in your budget, Sake Hundred features other equisite sakes at approachable price points. Sake Hundred’s Byakko Bespoke was chosen for the U.S. portfolio because of its approachability and ability to pair well with a range of foods and it is a great starting point for those discovering sake.
ー An 18% polishing ratio brings elegant flavor:
Byakko Bespoke’s rice is painstakingly polished to just 18%, a nearly unheard-of ratio in the sake world, resulting in a sake of unparalleled quality, clarity with a delicate flavor profile. The polishing process requires upward of 200 hours of meticulous polishing of the rice, imparting Byakko Bespoke with the clearest, most uncomplicated of flavors that bring a sweetness and rich umami from the polished heart of the rice.
ー The king of sake rice bestows powerful umami:
Cultivated primarily in Hyogo Prefecture, Yamadanishiki rice, is a highly coveted crop considered “the King of Sake Rice”. The rice brings with it a balance of sweet, tart and a pronounced umami, reflected here in Byakko Bespoke’s quality and balance of flavor.
ー The greatest quality comes from the best water:
Byakko Bespoke is made from natural water taken from Mt. Chokai in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. This ultra-soft water helps bring the unparalleled quality and clarity of flavor Byakko Bespoke is known for.
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