Thimphu, Bhutan: Following a conference in Thimphu where the Japanese company Tsuchida Sake Brewery presented, the company expressed interest in establishing a production facility in Bhutan, according to Bhutan Live.
The “Japan-Bhutan Food Culture Exchange Symposium” was hosted in Thimphu by the Japanese Embassy in India. The symposium was attended by representatives of the Bhutanese government, the food, beverage, and hotel service businesses, as well as Kyoko HOKUGO, the Economic Minister of the Japanese Embassy in India.
A representative of the Japanese Embassy in India, which also covers Bhutan, explained his vision for the development of Japanese Sake in that country.
The official said, “A type of distilled whisky called “ara,” manufactured from grains like wheat or rice, is consumed in Bhutan. The beverage is very important for national celebrations. In some regions of the nation, people brew a different beverage from rice called “singchang” for personal consumption. I saw several cultural similarities between our two nations, particularly the intimate relationship between festivals and drinking.”
The traditional “kimono method” is used in this brewery to create the Sake. The Sake is created by microorganisms that live in the brewery using water, the Koji mould (a mould used to ferment alcohol), and usually unpolished rice.
Yuji Tsuchida, 46, the company’s sixth-generation owner, told Bhutan Live that he switched back to employing traditional methods in 2017 since modern brewing procedures using lactic acid bacteria or yeast result in all Sake tasting similar.
In 2021, the company brewed its experimental Sake using medium- to long-grain Indica rice that was grown in Bhutan rather than the typical short-grain Japonica rice, according to reports. The embassy added that in addition to producing rice, some areas of Bhutan also have a tradition of making “chang or chhaang,” a brewed rice liquor (similar to Japanese ‘Doburoku or unrefined sake’) for private consumption. This practice bears a striking resemblance to that of Japan, where Sake is a staple during each of the four seasons and is closely associated with rituals. So, there is a striking likeness and a good basis to think that this relationship will be fruitful.
According to the Embassy, Japanese brewing methods could serve as a guide for Bhutan, which has limited purchasing power in foreign currencies, to produce a processed agricultural good marketed to other nations.