Limited Sake Crafted by Dassai, Japanese Sake Brand Selected for State-Dinner, to Make Auction Debut at Sotheby’s

This July, Christie’s Hong Kong held an inaugural Japanese sake sale with all items sold. Following the success, Sotheby’s Hong Kong has also curated its first offering of Japanese sake, presenting the renowned Dassai Sake from the limited Beyond the Beyond Collection. Dassai is one of the most prominent premium sake brands in the world and was the first sake served in the White House in a Japanese state dinner with President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, in 2015.

Made from the award-winning Yamada Nishiki sake rice harvested in 2019, only 23 bottles are available worldwide. Bottles numbered 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 out of 23 will be offered in an online auction, estimated at HK$32,000 - 50,000 (US$4,000 - 6,000) per bottle. Each bottle includes a wooden case, which will be personalised with the buyer’s name in calligraphy.

Limited ‘Dassai Beyond the Beyond’ bottles, each estimated at HK$32,000 - 50,000

A renowned Japanese sake brand, Dassai is located deep in the mountains of the Yamaguchi prefecture, perfectly positioned for its natural supplies of pristine quality water. Dassai distinguishes itself from other sake manufacturers by producing only premium Junmai Daiginjo sake - the highest grade of sake - made from top-grade Yamada Nishiki rice milled to 50% of its original size. It was also the first sake brewery to employ a centrifuge rather than a conventional press, resulting in a much smoother and cleaner taste.

Dassai is located deep in the mountains of the Yamaguchi prefecture

Dassai is located deep in the mountains of the Yamaguchi prefecture

Grains being polished down to 23% for sake brewing 

In sake brewing, the rice polishing ratio shows how much of the rice surface is removed and plays an important role in determining the quality of sake. This is why the brewery has taken an ever-going challenge in pursuing rice of the utmost quality.

Dassai first planned to produce a Junmai Daiginjo sake with a rice-polishing ratio down to 25%. During the polishing process, the brewery learnt that a major producer from Nada was already selling a Junmai Daiginjo sake polished down to 24%. They decided to polish the rice 2% more, down to 23%. At the time, six days and six nights had passed since the polishing process started. That 2% more required an additional 24 hours. The whole process took a total of 168 hours, leading to the birth of Dassai 23, which is probably the most polished rice in Japan.

Dassai is also the first sake brewery to employ a centrifuge rather than a conventional hydraulic press. This means that instead of pressing the sake mash mechanically and forcibly tearing sake from lees, the gentle centrifugal force coaxes the finest droplets away, resulting in a much silky texture than regular sake.

In search of high-quality Yamada-Nishiki sake rice, Dassai initiated a contest entitled ‘Beyond the Best Yamada-Nishiki Project’ in 2019, calling on farmers of Yamada-Nishiki sake rice from across Japan to undertake the challenge. It conducted various screenings including machine analysis, DNA testing, and visual inspections by professionals to select the winning sake rice. The winning rice goes to those cultivated by Mr Yoshinobu Sakauchi from Tochigi prefecture, which was purchased by the brewery at approximately 25 times the market value.

The rice cultivated by Mr Yoshinobu Sakauchi from Tochigi prefecture won the 2019 contest

The bottles offered at the auction were made by using award-winning Yamada Nishiki sake rice selected from the competition. Dassai adopted the brewing method for Dassai Beyond but took it even further to craft this batch of limited 23 bottles of sake.

Six bottles are now offered at Sotheby’s online auction. While the bidding is still going on, the price has now gone up to HK$45,000 for the most expensive bottle. The bidding will close at 1pm on 10 November 2020. Don’t miss out on the chance to take home with your personalised bottle.

Auction details
Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Sale: Vine | The Scholarly Cellar of Dr. Gordon Ku Part II + Dassai Beyond the Beyond (online)
Auction deadline: 10 November 2020|1pm