“Ask Beau”– “What gets you excited about the sake market in the US?”
Well that’s an easy one! Almost everything! Sake exports to the US have been growing at a double-digit clip for over a decade. We have some of the best sakes available in Japan on our shelves in the US. The conditioning and care for exported sake has dramatically improved over the past decade. All in all, the sake market is getting smarter and more effective for the consumers.
And! When I get an email from the Brooklyn Kura in New York that reads: “Our tap room is Open!” How cool is that? Sake is really coming into its own in the States and Canada. We have everything from sake rice farmers, to brewing wizards! (Yes, looking at you Jake from Sequoia Sake!) We have major breweries making better and better sake here. We have the excellent SakeOne in OR making great sake and importing great sakes as well. We have Takara or Sho Chiku Bai here in Berkeley doing amazing things with sake that they in turn send to many global destinations.
More and more exporters/importers are coming on-line, and many wine distributors are filling out their sake selections. Some say that we have a glut of sake on the coasts! How great is that for consumers when we are over saturated with sakes? At some point there will be ye’ol tipping point, and importers and exporters will have to focus on the interior of the States more, which will also create so many more consumers.
When I was last in Japan, I met a gentleman of great standing in the sake world who humbled me greatly. He was there in Kyoto when I became the first Sake Samurai, and he pulled out a note card that looked rather tattered and aged. He read back to me my own words. In his broken English he quoted me, “One day I want to make sake so popular in the west that young Japanese consumers will say this is our drink, reclaim it, and make it even more popular in Japan.” He said that he carries the card always to “motivate him” and remind him that sake is not just one thing. It is many things. It is many people, places, and things. I nearly fell out of my chair, and was honored beyond belief.
Sake is jumping so many hurdles, and the momentum is increasing. Some of my original goals from over a decade ago have come and gone. The future's so bright, and this is with the knowledge that we are still fumbling along with such an old industry that is so young in so many capacities. Onward and upward!