Brewing Better Sake than the Previous Year… Change is to Make History. Shigenobu Aoki, 7th Generation Brewer

―Family business transforms into a new form of sake brewery

Brewing Better Sake than the Previous Year… Change is to Make History. Shigenobu Aoki, 7th Generation Brewer
Shigenobu Aoki, 7th generation brewer of Aoki Sake Brewery

7th generation brewer of Aoki Sake Brewery. When I was just over 60 years old, I was faced with the problems such as aging craftsmen and deteriorating equipment, and I was not young anymore myself, so I felt it was time to think about the future of the brewery and make various changes.

First,we hired a new chief brewer. Each chief brewer has his own personality, and he maybe is a good fit for our company or maybe not. There were several candidates, but we felt that the current chief brewer, Mr.Yanai, has unique potential. Everyone is involved in the steaming process, including myself, my daughter, my wife and the shipping staff. In addition, young chief brewers and apprentices will also be joining us. Although the sake breweries employing craftsman brewer is getting fewer these days, in the past, there were specialists in each stage of the Sake brewing process,which implied that sake brewing is such a profound and difficult process. The chief brewer's dream of making better sake and the Brewery's desire to launch a sake with a nice aftertaste are one and the same.

Originally, Aoki Sake Brewery wanted to make good sake from rice produced in Ibaraki Prefecture, so most of the rice we used is produced in Ibaraki Prefecture, and we have been actively using “Ibaraki’s original rice” variety. In addition, since around 2015, we have gradually replaced our facilities to create the best possible environment for sake brewing. Although we have a new chief brewer and produce good sake, we always believe that it is important to supply sake with consistent quality all year round.

Besides, there was an important issue of succession. At the time, my oldest son was still in high school, so I was inclined to let my eldest daughter take over. However, since she had become a nurse of her own volition, I found it hard to talk to her about it. Then, my wife, who sensed my thoughts, approached my eldest daughter about it. Of course, I felt sorry for her, but thanks to her learning about sake and promoting our brand, we were able to attract more attention than ever before. Now, as a Senior Managing Director and spokesperson for Aoki Sake Brewery, she works diligently every day on various tasks.
In 2021, my eldest son also returned to the brewery and started his training to preserve the
unique flavor of Aoki Sake Brewery as a brewer during the preparation process.

In 2015, “Gokeiji Junmai Ginjo Hitachinishiki” won third place in the Junmai Ginjo category at the SAKE COMPETITION 2015, and in 2016 it won the Trophy Award, the top award in the Junmai Ginjo category of sake division at the IWC (International Wine Challenge) , as well as the Grand Prix, the top award in the Ginjo category at U.S. National Sake Appraisal. Since all of these awards were won when we entered into competition for the first, people around were very surprised.
In 2019, we were honored to have our “Junmai Ginjo Omachi” selected by the airline JAL to offer on international business class flights.
With the increased attention, we have received more inquiries and orders, as well as more media coverage. Thanks to the efforts of our family, we have been able to respond solidly to various needs. I would also like to thank the craftsmen and employees who have always supported our brewery. Some of them have been working here for over 60 years. My father (the sixth-generation brewer) wrote the characters of “Gokeiji”, which was made to label directly, while my mother (the sixth-generation brewer's wife) has long written the characters for gift wrapping.

Aoki Sake Brewery was established in 1831 and has a history of nearly 200 years. We have been committed to preserving the traditional industry of our hometown and passing it on to the next generation through the hands of our family and craftsmen, and Aoki Sake Brewery have been striving to “create” local sake of Ibaraki, which gets better and better with each passing year.

Shigenobu Aoki, Representative Director, Aoki Sake Brewing Company