Gekkeikan now brings the newest technologies to a brewing process that is nearly 2,000 years old and continues to strengthen its marketing position in the wake of growing demand for sake worldwide.
Gekkeikan established its Folsom sake brewery as part of its strategy to reach new markets. It is the company's first brewing facility in North America and is the sixth brewery to bear the Gekkeikan name.
Why was Folsom selected? Just as Fushimi was "discovered" centuries ago, Folsom was found to offer just the right conditions: high quality water and an abundance of rice- the perfect setting for a skilled brewmaster backed by over three and a half centuries of experience.
The introduction of the waterwheel in the 17th century, which eliminated the need for the manual polishing of rice grains, allowed Japan to begin producing saké at an industrial level for its greater population. Today Japan remains at the cutting edge of technology in its brewing practices. However, the traditional methods of handcrafted, artisanal saké remain alive in smaller and often family-owned breweries. Many of these showcase local ingredients and focus on microclimates to make what is known as ‘jizake,’ or regional saké.
Sake with the lowest milling requirement at no less than 30% milled, so that 70% of each rice grain remains, is simply called Junmai. It is made of water, koji mold, yeast and rice. The categories of saké are established not by rice variety, but by their polishing or milling percentages. Junmai is also brewed in the absence of added alcohol. Some brewers, in search of other flavors, aromas and textures, will add a small amount of distilled alcohol during the brewing process. But the alcohol in any saké labeled Junmai will come purely from fermentation.