BY: Brewing Year

As autumn till spring is generally the season for making sake, the  Shuzo Nendo  runs from the 1st of July until the 30th of June of the following year to include that period. The Brewing Year ran from October 1st until September 30th of the following year until 1964, but this was changed to the current system from the 1965 season.

For example, 2015BY refers to the twelve months from July 1st 2015 until June 30th, 2016. This is according to the western calendar, which is often used. However, the Japanese calendar tells the year according to the number of years of the current Emperor’s reign. The Emperor at the time of writing has been on the throne since 1989, and so 2015 marked the 26th year of his reign, which is called Heisei. (The era of the previous Emperor’s reign ended in its 63rd year (Showa 63) in 1988.) Domestic labels date product by either (or sometimes both) reckonings, for example as 2015BY or 26BY. Sake production and other matters relating to the industry are calculated within this annual framework.

However, from about 1960 onwards, shiki-jozo (year-round brewing) made its appearance, and it became less unusual for ongoing sake brewing to span two seasons. Liquor Tax Law considers brewing to be finished at the point of pressing, so in cases when the pressing of sake from a single bunkai group is completed after July 1st, the resulting sake is held to belong to the production of the new Brewing Year.