IT IS the national drink of Japan, mentioned in the first written history of the country more than 1,000 years ago.
Now Scotland is in line for its first brewery dedicated to sake, or rice wine.
Arran Brewery, the firm behind award-winning ales Arran Blonde and Arran Dark, is raising funds through crowd sourcing for the sake project at the site of a former primary school in Dreghorn, near Kilmarnock.
Arran has acquired the five-acre site and is to submit formal plans for the sake brewery, training school and a research and development centre. Managing director Gerald Michaluk said: “The sake brewery will almost exclusively export to Japan. We have been making sake on a very small, almost domestic, scale and are now ready to build a sizeable facility”.
He said he believed Japanese shops would stock Scottish sake due to the popularity of Scotch whisky. Sake is actually produced by a brewing process more like that of beer.
The firm is also hoping to use the £4 million of crowd-sourcing funding to create two new breweries and visitor centres called the Forth and Clyde Brewery and the Loch Earn Brewery – as well as a micro distillery and bottling plant on the site of the former Rosebank distillery in Falkirk and a chain of beer bistros and craft-beer bars.
Brewery equipment for sake, including rice boilers, is being imported from Japan. It is hoped the Sake Brewery will be operational by the winter – the traditional time to make the drink.