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Japan business opens applications to age alcohol under the sea

A business in Hokkaido, Japan is opening up its ocean-ageing services for bottles of alcohol to the general public, and giving people the chance to watch their maturing bottles via their smartphone.

Japan business opens applications to age alcohol under the sea

Hokkaido Kaiyo Matsuri, based in the northernmost region of Japan’s main islands, is accepting applications from members of the public wanting to age their alcohol on the sea floor.

Applications opened on 20 March and will remain so until 19 April for those wanting to submerge their drinks off the shores of Hokkaido. Bottles will then be lowered into the sea from 30 June 2024 to 29 June 2025.

The service isn’t cheap, costing ¥105,600 (£551) per storage cage. However, the price includes the cost of submerging, monitoring, maintenance, wax sealing, and insurance. Each case can hold 12 bottles, and not all bottles need to be the same liquor. Participants can age any combination of whisky, gin, rum, Tequila, shochu, sake, wine, sparkling wine, Champagne or liqueurs. However, bottles must be in roughly the same shape as a standard bottle of sake or wine.

The service was initially aimed at sake breweries and businesses, including restaurants, looking to age their wines in an interesting way, before being opened up to the public this month.

Hokkaido Kaiyo Matsuri is also offering a monitoring service, according to Sora News 24, using a solar-powered camera pointed at the cellar 24 hours a day, meaning participants can access a view of their sea-ageing cases for 24 hours a day.

Hokkaido is surrounded by three different seas — it has coastlines on the Sea of Japan to the west of the island, the Sea of Okhotsk to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the east.

Deep water emulates the effect of a natural cellar, as the wine is kept at a constant temperature in total darkness. The conditions allow the resulting flavours, colours and aromatics to be amplified.

Deap sea ageing seems to be picking up in Japan. A Toyko-based PR firm began a new seafloor wine ageing project last month to help revive the local economy in the Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan. Read more on that story here.

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