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Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

For every batch that Den Sake Brewery releases, we always try to secure all of the Ori that comes along with the release.

Ori, in Japanese, means sediment. In the context of sake, ori sake (also known as orizake) is a style of sake that incorporates the rice particles that settle at the bottom of the tank while aging.

In recent Den batches, the yields have decreased, making this special, Umami Mart exclusive sake even more elusive. To understand why the Ori is so scarce, Yoshi invited us to the brewery to watch his process for pressing and racking sake.

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartDen Batch 13 Moromi

After fermentation, the moromi (fermentation mash) is ready for pressing. At Den Sake Brewery, everything is done by hand, and they use the funashibori (bag) method for pressing sake. This means that the moromi is transferred into sakabukuro (fine meshed bags for pressing sake), one by one. It also means that Ori is possible (mechanized presses leave very little Ori behind, so it is most successfully retrieved by this meticulous hand-pressed method).

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartFill'er up!

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartYoshi hoists each bag into the press. 

Each sakabukuro is carefully laid out side-by-side in the press.

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartSakabukuro laid down layer-by-layer

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartTightened and folded over with the flick of the hand.

Yoshi explained to me that the reason why the Ori yield has decreased in the past few batches is because they have switched half of their bags to a higher quality bag that has a finer mesh. You'll see these are the old, looser bags that release more lees (hence, more Ori).

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartSakabukuro with loose weave

These new bags which look thicker keep more of the lees in. While this is great news for the regular filtered batches, but it's less favorable for us die-hard Ori-heads.

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartThicker sakabukuro with finer weave

As the bags start to squeeze sake with the force of gravity, you start to see some of the clear liquid coming out of the spigot of the press.

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

After 50 bags or so, the tank is empty.

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

Yoshi starts to weigh the press down with stainless steel panels and wooden blocks.

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

And finally the weighted pulley is gently lowered.

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

The liquid slowly gets squeezed out over two to three days and gets pumped into a clean tank.

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

Yoshi gives us a fresh taste.

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

This fresh genshu (undiluted sake) tasted especially fruity and robust. It'll age for another three weeks and be released as a namazake (unpasteurized sake). Can't wait!

Den Sake Brewery Umami Mart

4-5 days later, Yoshi shows us how the Ori sinks to the bottom of the tank. This is the amount of sake that ends up being bottles as Ori.

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartPhoto by Yoshi Sako

As you can see, it's only a fraction of the total tank. 

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartPhoto by Yoshi Sako

Yoshi says, that it's about 1.5% to 2% of the tank.

Den Sake Brewery Umami MartPhoto by Yoshi Sako

In any given batch, we get anywhere from 36 to 48 bottles of Ori – so they are fleeting. If you want to get a taste of this sophisticated and slightly bitter, creamy Ori, be ready to pull the trigger as soon as they hit the shelves! Be updated on its release in our weekly e-newsletter.

Additional reading:
Umami Mart Ori by Den Sake Brewery
Meeting Yoshihiro Sake of Oakland's Den Sake Brewery

Photos by Umami Mart and Yoshi Sako

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