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Hollywood star Cate Blanchett joins Toku Saké as creative director

Oscar-winning actor Cate Blanchett will oversee creative strategy at Toku following “countless, joy-filled nights” drinking sake.

Cate Blanchett, well-known for her acting roles in films including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Carol and Red, has taken on a new mantel as creative director for premium sake brand Toku.

Brewed in Asahikawa, Japan, Toku employs techniques used for more than 120 years at one of the region’s oldest breweries, incorporating “highly polished”  Yamada Nishiki rice, generally recognised among sake makers as being the best quality rice with which to make the fermented drink.

The exceptionally cold climate in Asahikawa, which is Japan’s coldest city, results in “distinctly delicate, aromatic notes and an exceptionally long, rich finish”, which sets it apart from other Junmai Daiginjo sake, according to the brand.

“The thoughtful, reflective craftsmanship that is part and parcel of everyday life in Japan has long been a touchstone for me,” said Blanchett.

“Sake reflects these traditional values with its intense focus on method, purity and authenticity. Sitting around a table with friends and family, celebrating and breaking bread together is one of life’s g reat pleasures, and over the years I have had countless, joy-filled nights sharing saké in this way. I’m excited to help bring the exquisite liquid which is Toku Saké into the world market.”

To mark the launch of the partnership, Toku will work with Treeapp to plant one mangrove for every bottle of Toku Saké sold.

The brand’s co-founders Anthony Newman and Peter Hudson said: “We are honoured to welcome Cate to the team. Her critically acclaimed background as an artist and producer, along with her passion for Japanese culture and highly selective involvement in global projects, will open new doors for our brand.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the Toku Saké vision shared and realised with the rest of the world, as sake grows in popularity in western markets.”

According to recent data by the Japan Saké and Shochu Makers Association, Japanese sake exports reached a record high of: ¥47.5 billion (US$361 million) in 2022, up 18% from 2021.

As the drinks business reported, sake was sold to 75 countries and territories in 2023; the highest number on record for sake exports.

China is by far the biggest market for Japanese sake exports, followed by the US.

db spoke with Rumiko Obata, fifth-generation manager of Obata Brewery on Japan’s Sado Island, who explained that local tastes dictate which forms of sake are sold in each market.

“It’s different for each country,” Obata explained. “Cloudy sake, or Nigori, with its texture and high flavour intensity, is popular in the US, as is sparkling sake, while in the UK market rice wine is also finding its feet.”


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