Japan Airlines has launched a new marketing initiative to boost the popularity overseas of the Japanese traditional national drink of ‘‘sake’‘, an alcoholic beverage brewed from rice. The clear drink is an integral part of Japanese culture, used for ritual and relaxation since time immemorial. Sake has recently become more popular overseas, especially in Europe and North America, accompanying the boom in Japanese food among health conscious people. The varieties of sake enjoyed by overseas drinkers tend to be the premium types made from pure ingredients without any additives.
Top quality sakes are made from the finest rice, highly polished to remove impurities, the purest spring water - in which Japan abounds - and special sake yeasts. Typical alcohol strength is 15 to16 degrees.
JAL is helping sake brewers in Japan with the overseas promotion and export of their products in a number of ways. The airline is also using the delights of sake to boost inbound tourism to Japan.
Utilizing JAL Group resources, the airline is now organizing the core of the JAL Sake Project.
A key element is assisting sake exports and developing the overseas market by explaining the culture of the rice-brewed beverage. JAL is providing Japanese brewers with help for overseas sake promotional activities such as tastings and market surveys overseas.
Another feature is the promotion of sake tourism for visitors from overseas. This involves suggesting mini-tour packages to visit traditional breweries in attractive local districts through JAL’s overseas tour promotion subsidiary companies.
JAL will also be arranging tastings of premium sake at international airport lounges.Ê
Spreading the word about sake, JAL is featuring articles about the national drink in the English section of the airline’s in-flight magazine, Skyward.
A special JAL website dedicated to sake: http://sake.jal.com is now in operation. This multi-language website contains information on sake brewing, descriptions of traditional sake breweries throughout Japan and how to visit them, details of the varieties of premium sake served on board JAL flights and a glossary of sake terminology.
Sake is brewed from a mash of water, rice and yeast. The drink is clear, and generally colourless. The nomenclature of sake is complex, but relates to quality, production methods and most important, raw materials. Rather than enter into a detailed description of the many varieties available, here is a listing of the main types.
- Ginjo-shu or special brew sake. Rice polished to 60% or more. No additives, just rice, water and yeast.
- Daiginjo is the term used when the polishing goes to 50% or more
- Junmai or Junmai-shu means pure rice sake. Rice is polished to 70% or less. Only rice, water and yeast are used. No brewer’s alcohol is added.
- Honjozo - sake cut with a limited amount of brewer’s alcohol. Rice polished to 70% or less.
There are special rice varieties for sake brewing, such Yamada Nishiki, Omachi and Miyama Nishiki.