- Rice: Yamadanishiki (Yamaguchi)
- Yeast: Purportedly number 9, although it's officially undisclosed.
- Fermentation starter: sokujo
- Aging: minimal; 3-6 months to soften.
- Polish: 45%
- Grade: Junmai Daiginjo
- Recommended serving temperature: refrigerator cold to lightly chilled
Asahi Shuzo, a relatively young Yamagata brewery founded in 1948, is really the progenitor of the premium sake trend and may be the most popular premium sake brand outside of Japan. But this wasn't the case in 1984, when 3rd generation president Hiroshi inherited a company facing bankruptcy. Like so many other breweries in the 80s, the business had been relying on declining sales of its inexpensive house brand. Cheap sake was competing with beer and losing.
At the same time, Sakurai noticed a fledgling trend in premium sake. The recent (and dramatic) improvements in brewing technology as well as the economic bubble inflating demand for premium products were driving this trend. Hoping to ride the wave, Sakurai phased out Asahi Shuzo's house brand and launched a premium daiginjo brand named “Dassai” in 1990. Sakurai focused his marketing efforts on high-end restaurants in Tokyo and eventually broke into the global export market. Asahu Shuzo invested in collaborations with chefs such as Joel Robuchon, who opened a sake bar and restaurant in Paris, as well as a 700,000 square foot brewery at the Culinary Institute of America campus in upstate New York. Asahi Shuzo is now a $100M global brand still on an upward trajectory, continuing to innovate and redefine sake throughout the world.