J.CAVIAR × SHOCHU X A matured collaboration

On May 26, 2022, J.CAVIAR, a domestic craft caviar brand that inherits Japanese tradition and challenges the world, will introduce shochu with an original concept and a new shochu experience beyond that. Collaboration products with SHOCHU X, a brand that aims to create, will be released.

This time, we will ask President Sakamoto of Japan Caviar Co., Ltd., which manufactures and sells J.CAVIAR, together with Hashimoto, the representative of SHOCHU

[Collaboration product]

Oscetra Royal × Sparkling Star

Click here for product details and purchase

“J.CAVIAR” is a craft caviar brand with excellent taste and aging.

─First, please introduce each brand. First of all, I would like to ask President Sakamoto.

Sakamoto (J.CAVIAR) : We are a company that makes craft caviar called J.CAVIAR, with the concept of "bringing Japanese caviar to the world."

When you think of caviar, you think of Russia or Europe as its home, but when it comes to fish roe culture, I think Japan has the best culture in the world. Japan has a lot of fish roe, such as karasumi, salmon roe, and herring roe, so I think Japanese people are the best when it comes to handling delicious fish roe.

Caviar is said to be one of the world's three major delicacies, and we believe that if Japanese people, who have a wonderful culture of fish roe, can make caviar that Japanese people find truly delicious, it will become truly delicious. We have started development.

Now, by mastering our unique aging techniques, we are able to produce Japanese caviar that is unique to Japan, and sell it not only domestically but also all over the world.

Initially, the product name and brand was ``Miyazaki Caviar 1983,'' but as we began to communicate this to the world, we wanted to promote Japanese caviar, so we now call it ``Japan Caviar.'' At the same time, we created a new brand called ``J.CAVIAR'' from ``Miyazaki Caviar 1983''.

─Why are Japanese people so good at handling fish eggs?

Sakamoto : Caviar is made by adding rock salt to sturgeon roe and aging it, but the process is difficult precisely because it is so simple.

Japan has the word ``umami,'' but that word didn't originally exist in the rest of the world. Nowadays, the word ``umami'' has become a standard language in the world, and I believe that Japan is the best in the world when it comes to ``umami'' culture.

Caviar is not only salty, but also has ``umami'' to make it delicious, so I believe that the caviar made by Japanese people who have mastered ``umami'' will be among the top caviar in the world.

It seems that many people from overseas think that all white fish tastes the same, but Japanese people can enjoy the ``umami'' of white fish.

I think the concept of caviar is very interesting to Japanese people, who have developed delicate tongues that have been able to sense ``umami'' since childhood, and find it delicious.

─ Caviar that can only be made by Japanese people who have mastered ``umami.'' It's very unique and I have high expectations...! Mr. Hashimoto, what is your impression of J.CAVIAR?

Hashimoto : I have already known about J.CAVIAR, and I was impressed when I first tasted "Osetra Royal", which is the product we will be collaborating with this time.

I felt that the word "delicious" was so cheap that it transcended the concept of "delicious."

I really like distilled spirits, not just shochu, and I often drink them at bars.

At that time, I sometimes drink something that costs more than 5,000 yen per cup, and it's similar to the feeling I get when I drink something that costs more than 5,000 yen. If I were to express it in words, it would feel cheap and wasteful. I felt that from "Osetra Royal".

I received another product, vodka made for caviar, which was also delicious and above all, the design was very cool.

I think it's J.CAVIAR's brand power that has allowed the brand to be established in such a high price range, so I've learned a lot from them.

I think it's really amazing that they provide not just the product, but the whole story as value, and that's why they're recognized and wholesaled by top chefs and hotels.

Getting recognition from top-notch people is a really difficult task.

“SHOCHU X” delivers unique shochu and a new shochu experience

─Next, Mr. Hashimoto, please introduce your brand.

Hashimoto (SHOCHU X) : We are running a shochu brand under the theme of "TRANSFORM SHOCHU."

I'm not originally from Kyushu, I'm not the son of a sake brewer, and I had no connection to shochu at all, but I fell in love with shochu when I was a student.

One day, I learned that many Japanese sake venture companies were starting to appear and growing overseas, and I suddenly wondered why this wasn't happening with my favorite shochu. I wondered.

From there, I started thinking that I wanted to do a job related to shochu, and while I was making appointments and talking to various sake breweries and people in the shochu industry, I had a chance to work in shochu. It has become.

With that company, I actually went overseas and sold shochu to people overseas at events where buyers from all over the world gathered, and there were quite a few people who were more impressed by the taste of shochu than Japanese people.

When I saw the reactions of those people, the idea that I should bet on shochu grew within me.

On the other hand, we found some issues while actually selling shochu.

One is the low alcohol content.

Shochu with an alcohol content of 20 to 25% is sold in general stores, and this alcohol content range is about the same as that of shochu in the world.

On the other hand, around the world, whiskey, brandy, vodka, gin, and tequila are all over 40% and are meant to be used as after-dinner drinks, such as cocktails, straight, and on the rocks. Therefore, I strongly realized that low-strength shochu is difficult to accept overseas in the first place.

The other thing is design and branding. I've heard many times that ``You should put more effort into the design like you do with Western liquor'' and ``Shochu is too cheap.''

In order to overcome these challenges, I want to launch this brand and increase the value of shochu.

All of our shochu have an alcohol content of 40% or higher, are designed to be placed in a bar, and we offer shochu that can be drunk straight as an after-dinner drink or in cocktails.

─ I certainly feel that the scene of drinking shochu and the scene of drinking Western liquor are different.

Hashimoto : That's right. For example, I think it's common for everyone to pop open a glass of champagne on a special occasion, but if you were to ask if shochu is the drink of choice for that special celebration, I think it's rare these days.

We aim to spread new ways to enjoy shochu by offering shochu that is worthy of being chosen for special occasions in everyday life.

─ Thank you very much. What is your impression of SHOCHU X from President Sakamoto's perspective?

Sakamoto : When we first met SHOCHU

I think this shochu is going to challenge the idea that you just said, ``I wouldn't drink shochu on a special day.'' While there are aspects of inheriting the traditional shochu culture, I think we are faced with the difficult challenge of going beyond what at first glance may seem like a trade-off, such as abandoning the shochu of the past.

Caviar is originally thought of as something eaten on special occasions around the world, but many people have the image of shochu as something that Japanese working men would drink after work. So...it might be more difficult than in Japan.

So, they are trying to brand this well, and I think this will be a very interesting shochu.

History of this collaboration

─ Why did you decide to collaborate this time?

Hashimoto : It all started because Mr. Sagae of SAGA INC., who is helping with the branding of SHOCHU It all started when you connected me because you had a part.

As Mr. Sagae mentioned, both J,CAVIAR and SHOCHU Please feel it.

Certainly, when it comes to the special day experience, caviar itself is a special ingredient for J Caviar, and I think there is a part that goes well with it as an experience.

I believe that Japan's food culture is still very closed-minded. I think there is a part of it that doesn't have a well-rounded content, like the British afternoon tea culture. For example, even if there is something delicious like mullet, mullet is just mullet as a substance, and there are very few ways to enjoy mullet.

The same can be said for shochu, and I think its value increases because of the wonderful ingredient caviar, and I think the fact that it's made in Japan has great significance. , I think that the fact that we were able to make this collaboration happen has great cultural value.

─ That's because there was some overlap in the experiences the two companies were aiming for.

Hashimoto : That's right. Additionally, when I thought about which company to start collaborating with as SHOCHU X, I knew that I wanted to work with a first-class brand.

Mr. Sakurai, the chairman of Asahi Sake Brewery, which makes the Japanese sake ``Dassai,'' apparently believed that when expanding overseas, it was absolutely necessary to attack from the top, so he decided to start with France.

As a result, Dassai is now widely drunk in France, and the Dassai brand has been established.

When I look around Japan and think about the best ingredients that are recognized around the world, I feel that it is a great honor to be able to work with J.CAVIAR.

Online discussion (left: Hashimoto, right: President Sakamoto)

Sakamoto : Thank you.

Dassai-san was actually the first brand we collaborated with. After all, we initially wanted to work with Asahi Shuzo, a top manufacturer, and thanks to that track record, it has become easier to collaborate with various companies.

I think it is a very important point of view to decide who to work with.

It's a little hard to say, but originally I said, ``I don't want to do anything with shochu.'' No, that's an old story. (lol)

In fact, Miyazaki Prefecture, where Japan Caviar is located, is the largest producer of shochu in Japan.

So when we released caviar to the world, we thought about what to pair it with, and everyone around us said, ``When you think of Miyazaki, it's definitely shochu.''

However, I also felt that caviar and shochu didn't go together, and more importantly, they didn't go together visually.

Because it's not fashionable at all to put a traditional 1-sho shochu bottle next to a fancy caviar bottle.

But what made me decide that I wanted to work with SHOCHU

I thought it would be possible to see shochu and caviar together in a special day photo, and I felt it had a lot of potential.

The rest is taste.

In my opinion, the deliciousness of shochu is its sweetness, and I think there are many people who drink shochu by diluting it with hot water, and that's when you mix it with hot water, which brings out that sweet aroma. .

However, SHOCHU

If it has a woody scent and you don't think it's shochu, then is it whiskey? That's the kind of image I had in mind.

Actually, caviar and whiskey go well together.

I've said this in many places, but it doesn't really catch on. (lol)

I felt that caviar would go just as well with that whiskey, so I thought I'd definitely like to work with it in terms of taste as well.

Oscetra Royal x Sparkling Star A miraculous marriage created by aging

─ I get the impression that they complement each other. Both companies each have a number of products, but why did you choose "Kazei" and "Osetra Royal" for this collaboration?

Sakamoto : Among the many alcoholic beverages and ingredients available, I happened to come across shochu called Kousei and our caviar, and they went very well together. I think it was a fateful encounter, just like a couple.

Caviar also has different tastes depending on the type of fish, but the reason why we combined Kosei with this Oscetra is that if we are aiming for the world together, we think that of the types of fish currently available in Japan, it has the most brand power overseas. This is because I thought that a certain type of fish, Osetra, and Royal, which has the most brand power and high quality, would be good.

The best marriage has been realized.

Hashimoto : Regarding Kousei, President Sakamoto said earlier that it was like whiskey, and that's exactly right.Korea is a barrel-aged shochu that looks like whiskey, so people who have actually tasted it say, `` I often hear people say, ``I don't know if it doesn't say shochu,'' or ``It's like whisky.''

This sparkling star is a fusion of overseas barrel storage culture and Japan's koji culture, and we actually blend it ourselves while paying close attention to the nuances of shochu.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, foreign distilled spirits such as whiskey are drunk as an after-dinner drink, while shochu is drunk as an after-dinner drink in Japan.

There's a reason for that: shochu is made from koji, and the aromatic component ``octenol'' derived from koji gives it a mushroom-like nuance, like matsutake mushrooms. It goes well with food.

So, while Kousei has been positioned as whiskey-like, it also has the koji flavor that is inherent in shochu, so it goes well with caviar and other ingredients when drunk straight.

I think the pairing of the aged caviar and the aged shochu creates a very deep pairing.

We would like our customers to experience this marriage for themselves.

─ Are there any recommended ways to enjoy it?

Sakamoto : When I eat caviar, I cook it in a variety of ways, but the most delicious thing is the way it is.

I think the best way to start is by just using a spoon and saying ``bakku'' without being stingy (lol) and then drinking the sparkling star.

The aftertaste lingers for a while, but after the aftertaste disappears, I have another sip of caviar. The best part is that you can repeat it endlessly. (lol)

Hashimoto : I love that way of enjoying it too!

No, really, a week ago I was enjoying it in exactly the same way, going back and forth with Kira Sei straight and Osetra Royal as well.

It's the ultimate luxury.

It is often recommended to drink Kirausei straight, but the reason why you can drink it straight without feeling too much alcohol, including the aroma, is because it has become mellow due to the aging effect.

Kousei is a blend of shochu that has been aged for an average of ten years.

Times are changing rapidly these days, but I believe that aging is a unique value that cannot be created immediately.

The value of Kousei lies in its taste, but I believe that drinking aged sake while thinking about the eternal flow of time is the best way to enjoy it.

Sakamoto : Also, today it's straight and tomorrow it's rock.

I think there are many different ways to drink and eat it, so I think you can try it as is and then enjoy it as you like.

The challenges of both companies will continue

─Finally, please tell us about the future challenges each of you are aiming for.

Hashimoto: We operate the brand to fulfill our mission of ``TRANSFORM SHOCHU,'' and in that context, it is often recognized as a way to spread Japanese culture.

We are shochu professionals, so we would like to spread Japanese culture through shochu.

However, on the other hand, I can't do anything other than shochu, so I would like to continue to spread the good things of Japan while working hand in hand with players like J.CAVIAR who have similar thoughts and experiences.

Sakamoto : While we want to make caviar that is popular overseas, we also want to foster a culture of eating caviar in Japan.

In Japan, caviar is still something to decorate with, not something to eat.

Overseas, we eat so much caviar that there are restaurants specializing in caviar, and I wish people would eat that much caviar in Japan as well.

What we are currently working on is ``Japanese-style caviar.'' By combining caviar with the unique Japanese soy sauce, kelp flavor, and soup stock, we create "Japanese caviar" that can only be found in Japan and that even Japanese people find delicious.

I will do my best to help more people become familiar with caviar.