The Past - Part 2 - 689 AD: "Court made” Sake

Imperial Palace in Tokyo

When rural farming villages are happy the ruling elite want to know why. When the toils of everyday labors bring forth a euphoria and celebratory elixir—certain people in authority want to know how. Sake’s second phase came about when the Imperial Court opened the first sake brewery within the confines of the Imperial Palace. Sake had become a fascination and now technique and discipline would be applied to the construction of the “nectar of the gods.”

The brewing department in the Imperial Palace became the epicenter for the advancement of sake as we know it today. The booze of the farmers became the sauce of high society. The Imperial Court tried to elevate sake to that of elite status and frowned on commoners enjoying the intoxicating benefits of this rice-based alcohol.

This “In-House” time period saw development in the methods of sake production and many of the tools of the trade.  This period is known as Chotei no sake.

Imperial brewers at the time felt constricted by the confines of the court; they wanted to play with new ingredients and new water sources so they petitioned to venture out to new locales in order to continue manufacturing and improving sake. These Imperial brewers had a solid understanding of the sake-making process, but they wanted to take their experiences outside of the court’s watchful eye.