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#003山梨銘醸 七賢Yamanashi Meijo SHICHIKEN

名水あるところに名酒あり。伝統と革新が同居した日本酒造り。Where there is outstanding water, there is outstanding sake.
Sake brewing where tradition and innovation go together.

成分のおよそ8割が水という日本酒。そのおいしさの真髄はやはり水にある。北杜市白州町で唯一の酒蔵として知られる七賢は、創業1750(寛延3)年、長野県で酒造業を営んでいた本家の7代目が白州の水の良さに注目し、甲州街道台ヶ原の地で分家として始めた老舗だ。
現在は13代目が伝統を踏襲しながらも新しい挑戦を続け、日本酒と発酵文化を伝えている。白州の水だからこそ生まれるフレッシュな味わい。稀少な日本酒を求めて酒蔵を訪ねた。
Japanese sake consists of about 80% water. The essence of its distinctive taste comes from the water. Shichiken, the only sake brewery in Hakushu town in Hokuto city, was established in 1750 (3-year Kan'en era ). The brewery was originally a branch of the head brewery in Nagano. After the 7th-generation head of the brewery got notice of the quality of the water in Hakushu, he established the branch brewery along the Koshu highway at Daigahara.
Currently under the directions of the 13th-generation director, the brewery combines tradition while also taking on new challenges, focusing mainly on Japanese sake and fermentation cultures. The fresh taste is inherent to the water of Hakushu. We visited the brewery attracted by the promise of rare Japanese sake.

「白州の水をいかに酒に表現していくか。この環境を最大限に生かした酒造りをしたいんです」。そう語るのは、北杜市白州町に唯一ある酒蔵、七賢の醸造責任者を務める北原亮庫さん。
300年近く続く歴史と伝統を誇る酒蔵を、現在の社長である父、北原兵庫さんのもと、営業を担当する専務取締役の兄、北原対馬さんとともに守っている。
"We look for how to express the characteristics of Hakushu water in the sake. Therefore, when making sake we try to bring out the maximum of this environment", says Mr. Ryogo Kitahara, in charge of the distillation of Shichiken, the only sake brewery in Hakushu, Hokuto city.
The almost 300-year history and tradition of the sake brewery are currently proudly being carried on together with his father, company president Hyogo Kitahara, and his elder brother, senior managing director, Tsuyoshi Kitahara.

七賢の酒は南アルプス甲斐駒ヶ岳の伏流水が仕込み水になっており、酒蔵の敷地内にある大きな井戸から天然水を汲み、長年酒造りに使用してきた。この地で生まれ育った亮庫さんにとって、幼いころから水がおいしいのは当たり前のこと。
だが、酒造りに関わるようになってつくづく、この土地の水の素晴らしさを理解できるようになったという。「以前は、水のおいしさをわかっていても、酒に使った場合どんな特徴が出るのか見えてこなかった。今ではそれが明快にわかるので、白州の水を生かした酒造りができるようになったと自負しています」
Shichiken sake is made with underground water from the Minami Alps' Mt. Kai-Koma. The natural water is historically being drawn from a large well in the premises of the brewery.
As is the place where he was born and grew up, Mr. Ryogo has drunk this water since he was very young and therefore drinking this delicious water is most normal for him. However, he thoroughly came to understand the magnificence of the local water when he became more involved with the sake production. "In the past, I knew the taste of the water well, but it was difficult to understand how its characteristics would impact the sake. Now I understand this clearly and am proud we can make use of the water from Hakushu."

酒造りは水と酵母の相性によるところが大きい。口に含んだときの潤い、瑞々しさ、爽やかさ、軽快さが感じられること。飲んだ時に気持ち良く喉を通り抜けていく心地よさ。この味わいこそが白州の水を使った七賢の日本酒の真骨頂だ。Sake brewing largely depends on the compatibility of water and yeast. You can feel the moisture, youthfulness, freshness, and lightness in your mouth. When you drink it, it will give a relaxed feeling and pass smoothly through your throat. It is because of the water from Hakushu that Shichiken's Japanese sake gets its true character.

連綿と続いてきた酒造りの一方で、後継した亮庫さんが対峙したのは長年踏襲されてきた醸造方法。水の特性がわかった今は、伝統を継承しながらも醸造責任者としてのビジョンを織り交ぜていく。While on one hand, the way of saké brewing has a long and unbroken, the current successor Mr. Kyogo had to face how sake brewing has traditionally been done. Now that we understand the characteristics of the water, we want to go forwards while interweaving tradition with our vision as a brewer.

「日本酒は搾った後に熟成期間というものがあり、そこで味の調和を保っています。そうすると旨味がのってくる。芳醇な酒はおいしいけど、僕の中で白州の水を使うイメージとはちょっと違うと思ったんです。だからできたら長期間寝かせず、すぐ瓶に詰める。それによりフレッシュなタイプが生まれました」"Japanese sake has to ferment for a certain time after it was squeezed to harmonize its taste. That is when it develops its flavor. Although rich mellow sake is delicious, my idea of how to use Hakushu's water was a little different. Therefore, instead of after the traditional way, I wanted to bottle the sake as soon as possible. This resulted in a fresh sake."

これまでは1年ほど寝かして瓶詰めして出荷していたが、今では熟成期間を3ヶ月から半年ほどに縮めた。フレッシュな酒だけに絞り込んだ理由は?という問いに亮庫さんはきっぱりとこう話す。
「『七賢の酒はどんな味?』と聞かれた時に『これです』と一言で明確に言いたかった。今まではいろいろな味があったので、何が七賢らしさなのかと問われたときに印象が弱くなってしまうと思って。白州の名水を生かした酒造りに特化した結果です」
In the past, the sake was stored for one year and bottled just before shipping, however, we reduced the aging period to about three months to half a year. When asked, "What is the reason for so much focus on fresh sake?", Mr. Ryogo tells us the following.
"When asked, "What is the taste of Shichiken sake?", I wanted to clearly state, "this". " Until now there were several different flavors, which I think made it difficult to clearly define Shichiken when asked about it. The result was specializing the sake brewing process by utilizing the water of Hakushu.

醸造以外でも既成概念にとらわれず、新しい感覚を取り入れ、アイデアを具現化していく。「ここ数年で地元米をどんどん増やしました。今では全体の80%が山梨県産米です。そのうち北杜市は全体の50%を占める。田んぼに旗を掲げているのは、どこの米を使っているのかアピールしたくて」。
他にもラベルやパッケージのリニューアル、カフェの併設、糀を取り入れた食のすすめ、香りを感じやすいワイングラスでのテイスティングなどを提案。日本酒での乾杯ができるようスパークリングも販売している。
Other than brewing, we are not bound by existing concepts but will continue to incorporate new sensations and ideas. "Over the last few years, we have gradually increased the use of local rice. Currently, a total of about 80% consists of rice grown in the Yamanashi prefecture. Of this, a total of about 50% comes from Hokuto city. To give more appeal to which rice we are using, we place flags in the rice fields to show its origin.
Other ideas include new labels and packages, a new section with a café, recommended beverages using koji (fermented rice residue), using wine glasses for tasting to better experience the aroma. We are now also selling a sparkling sake to use for toasts.

「まずは、できるところからですけどね」と笑う亮庫さん。伝統を守りながら、新たな時代のエッセンスを随所に取り入れていく、その手法は幅広い年齢層に日本酒の魅力を伝えるための環境づくりにも見て取れる。そして一時の流行やブームで終わることのないよう、将来を見据えた長期的な取り組みでもある。
「南アルプス水系の白州の水を使った日本酒は世界でうちしかないですから」。アイデアは軽やかに、酒造りは着実に。亮庫さんの挑戦は高い志とともに、これからも続いていく。
"First of all, we start with the things we can do first," laughs Mr. Ryogo. While preserving tradition, we want to merge the essence of a new era into every aspect, thus creating an environment that attracts a broad age group to Japanese sake. This is a long-term effort with our eyes on the future because we don't want it to be a one-off fashion or boom."
We are the only place in the world using Hakushu water from the Minami Alps system to make Japanese sake." While being open to new ideas, steadily making sake. Mr. Ryogo will continue to face the challenges highly motivated.

山梨銘醸 七賢Yamanashi Meijo Shichiken

住所Address
山梨県北杜市白州町台ヶ原22832283 Daigahara, Hakushu Cho, Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture
電話番号TEL
0551-35-2236
定休日
元日
営業時間
9:30~17:00(10月~3月は16:30まで)※直営店営業時間
URL
http://www.sake-shichiken.co.jp/

「水の山」コラム"MIZUNOYAMA" columns