Premium sake latest trend to hit US

A Maine resident has produced his own sake and is set to release it in the US, believing premium rice wine to be “an untapped market.”

Dan Ford-Maine sake-AP

Dan Ford with his new premium sake © AP

Dan Ford, who developed a taste for sake when he was in Japan, is the founder of Blue Current Brewery, a craft producer with a focus on high-end sake.

Speaking to the Associated Press Ford said he sees premium sake as “a market that’s untapped”. Ford is so confident of sake’s potential for success in the US that he has invested his retirement savings as well using Kickstarter to fund his new venture.

Elsewhere in the US, taste for sake has soared – largely due to the new popularity of Japanese street food bars, izakayas.

“Its depth and subtlety are tops, but the range of flavours that can come from rice, koji, water and yeast are amazing to many. It just tastes darn good,” said John Gauntner, a sake expert from Ohio who has written books about sake and has taught sake production in the US and Japan.

Professionals in the drinks trade have been quick to catch on to the current hype, and are starting to offer consumers the chance to try sake and win them round.

“Wine sommeliers are getting a taste and realizing where it can fit. It’ll never overtake the wine world, but people are starting to respect it and realizing that it has its place. There is a lot of room for growth,” said Tim Sullivan, founder of urbansake.com.

For Ford, he now has an agreement with a distributor to sell his sake at $25 for the standard-sized 750ml bottle and $15 for 350ml.

“It’s going to be slow in the beginning. We hope by this time next year that we’ll be talking crazy growth in our category,” he said.

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