In cooperation with Quality Okayama and Sommeliers Australia, Masahiko Iga organised an event bringing five sake brewers from the Okayama region in Japan to Australia to promote their area’s produce as a part of the Quality Okayama Project to bring their high quality products overseas. However, sake was not the only highlight of this particular promotional event. Okayama Prefecture is also well known for its Bizenyaki, a type of traditional hand-made pottery.
The event kicked off on the 16th of January at Cumulus Up in Melbourne’s CBD, each sake company laid out their wares, informational booklets and the Bizenyaki team prepared a small exhibition in the centre of the room for the pottery that they had brought along with them.
Attendees were impressed with the many varieties of sake available for tasting, and many were able to get a taste of varieties very rarely available in Australia, such as aged sake, nigori (cloudy) sake and the like.
Another perk of the event was Masahiko Iga’s Sake Masterclass sessions. Iga provided sommeliers, restaurant owners and those whose jobs intertwine with alcohol and potentially sake, with a very informative session on the important details of sake, what to look for in sake and most importantly, how to serve and recommend sake to their customers.
It’s all a part of an initiative to encourage Australians to give sake a go and bring a wider variety of products over here.
Many of the participants of Iga’s seminar came out with nothing but praise for it, with some who did not have much experience with sake mentioning that they felt more confident about recommending it to their customers or knowing what to look for when tasting. The lovely kitchen staff at Cumulus Up also prepared small canapes to be paired with the sake that were being tasted in the seminar, to demonstrate how sake matches with food and the flavours or umami that can be drawn from the food through sake.
Another presentation was made by Yume Farm’s Takaaki Okuyama, to provide some information on the Omachi rice, how it is grown, harvested, and how it compares to other varieties of sake rice or regular eating rice. Omachi rice is one of the oldest varieties of sake rice. Most varieties of sake rice, like Omachi, that grow with long stalks have been combined with shorter stalked varieties to shorten not only the stalks but harvest time as well, however, the original version of Omachi rice still exists to this day. Varieties such as Yamada Nishiki and Ginnosato have been derived from Omachi rice
Hopefully, events like this one will spark a love and appreciation for sake and Bizenyaki Pottery in the people of Melbourne and eventually Australia, and bring these wonderful hardworking creators of sake related products back to Melbourne to promote their prefectures produce again sometime soon.
You can find more information relating to the Quality Okayama Project, it’s partnered breweries and Bizenyaki Pottery at https://qualityokayama.jp/ (English Site)
Our previous article on last years event can be read here: