Ask any brewery owner or sake maker who is drinking sake in Japan and the answer will always be the same – “old men.” If one were to do a demographic study on the segment with the most “dots”, you would come up with “males between the ages of 45-70.” They would also say that these drinkers account for the vast majority of their sales. But are they the future? Not unless you can drink from beyond the grave.
With the knowledge that their base is “graying”, these breweries have begrudgingly sought out new ways to attract women and younger drinkers. They need to fill the vacuum that exists between the past and the future, and have look for new vehicles to get this unrepresented group into sake. By offering new styles – sparkling, low-alcohol, fruitier, sweeter, and nigori – they are starting to see some positive movement within new demographics. There is currently a grassroots effort that is gaining some traction in the form of women’s drinking groups. For instance, the sake Sommelier program in Japan has become fertile ground for these new demographics—this is a nice change to a very male dominated drinking environment.