I keep fond memories of my first visit to Daimon Shuzo in February 2013 together with other sake students of John Gauntner.
Before receiving a phone call from his father advising him to return to Kansai so that he would have time to learn the skills required to become the 6th generation heir of the business, Yasutaka Daimon spent 7 years abroad, including some time in France. His English is excellent and his experience allows him to understand the foreigner’s viewpoint when sharing his culture, sake culture.
The brewery was founded in 1826 and is located in Katano City, between Osaka and Nara. The brewery’s environment is a bit of an oasis near what very much looks like a bedtown of Osaka, despite the presence of a few rice paddies between the buildings, on the way from the local train station. As a matter of fact, when approaching the brewery, and to his surprise, the visitor suddenly finds himself in a small village with narrow winding roads. The brewery’s old gate faces a high hill covered with dense vegetation, a promise of fresh water.
I was back there last week. What a change inside! The old buildings were still there, however a number of volumes have been beautifully renovated, showing the quality and the simple beauty of the old construction, and some of the spaces located inside the main structure were converted into reception rooms for guests. A few weeks ago I wrote about how impressed I was by the way wine & cava producers in the Penedes region (in the hills behind Barcelona) are receiving tourists, and hinted that Japanese sake producers should take lessons from good practices there. Daimon san and his partners have designed the right environment, and I hope I will be in a position to host one or several events there.
Daimon san is one of the very few kuramoto (brewery owners) that have opened their capital to overseas partners (the only one I have heard about at least…), so that the business could invest fresh capital and leverage a network overseas. Sake brewing is a capital intensive activity.
Beyond equipment for the brewing process, and the building itself, the company changed its product line up and design, aiming at selling clearly identifiable products, by foreigners in particular. On the palate as well, the sake’s acidity is quite distinctive, with rich flavours.
It was nice tasting Daimon san’s sake again after a long break, I have to be back when the Mukunetei restaurant, located on the second floor of one of the brewery’s buildings, re-opens. The nabe specialty warmed our heart up 4.5 years ago before we faced the cold winter wind on our way back to Osaka.