Yamamoto Brewery

Yamamoto General Partnership Co. is located in Happo Town, which was formed by the merger of Hachimori Town and Minehama Town in 2006. It is situated in the north-western part of Akita Prefecture, and it has a breathtaking panoramic view of the Sea of Japan, where sandfish (hata-hata, a gourmet specialty from Akita) flock every winter. The city is bordered to the north by the Shirakami Mountains, a World Heritage Site where natural beech tree forests are preserved. A travel writer during the Edo era, Masumi Sugae, visited the forests and described them as “an earthly paradise.”
In 1901, Yomonosuke Yamamoto, who owned vast estates in the area, established the brewery. The production increased annu-ally (except for a temporary drop during the war) and continued to grow until 1973. The height of production was reached when coal-mining activities thrived at the Yubari Mine in Hok-kaido. During this time, nearly half of the entire production of Yamamoto Brewery was consumed by the miners at Yubari. However, in the 1960s, there was a decline in saké consumption at the Yubari Mine due to a switch from using coal to petroleum in Japan. In 1965, Yamamoto Brewery turned its attention to making products of higher values and commercialized one of first daiginjô in the national market. Daiginjô BACCHUS (named after the goddess of alcohol in Greek mythology) was highly valued by many high-end restaurants in Tokyo and Kobe. Due to the new policy, Yamamoto Brewery gradually re-established its production after the decline in consumption at the Yubari Mine.
In the 1990s, Yamamoto Brewery witnessed a series of sad events; its successors and representatives passed away one after another. The brewery’s activities were dramatically affected, and sales figures dropped sharply. The current head, Tomofumi Yamamoto, came to the brewing business rather unexpectedly. However, in order to keep the brewery running, he released a series of eye-catching products as soon as he arrived in 2002, making full use of the marketing skills he previously learned in music business. In 2007, he abolished the traditional post of Tôji (Head Brewer) and be-came the production manager himself, after which he re-leased junmai ginjô YAMAMOTO. Approximately seven years after he assumed his new role, the brewery’s entire produc-tion tripled. Since 2010, the brewery has not used artificial alcohol additions, and it is referred to as a brewery that performs “entirely pure rice brewing (zenryô junmai jikomi).”
In its early days, the brewery used water out of its own wells. However, due to its proximity to the coast, the water contained too much minerals, and it was unsuitable for saké brewing. As a result, the brewery conducted a large-scale construction project in 1932 and built a 2.5-kilometer-long underground aqueduct to obtain natural spring water from Mt. Yakushi. The new water source provided extremely soft water, which dramatically improved the quality of the saké. Even brewers from other breweries brought trucks with empty tanks asking for some of the water. Furthermore, the brewery has exercised strict quality control by introducing equipment, such as large refrigerators (to store saké at low temperatures) and pasteurizers (that can pasteurize saké after the bottling process), to maintain the freshness of the saké throughout the year.