Nada no kan-zukuri・Kan-zukuri

Cold-weather brewing (Nada style); cold-weather brewing

In earlier times, sake brewing went on regardless of the season, and, even in the early Edo Period (1603-1868), lasted for the long period from the autumn equinox until spring. The sake produced was classified according to the season in which it was made. Altogether there were five kinds: the sake which was made from the autumn equinox called shinshu (新酒), then ai-shu (間酒); early-winter kan-maezake (寒前酒); the kan-shu (寒酒) brewed at the coldest part of the year; and the haru-zake (春酒) made in early spring.

“Cold-weather brewing” (寒造り, kan-zukuri, ) refers to sake for which the moto is begun around the winter solstice, and for which the season chosen for brewing is the coldest part of the year. In this season, the growth of contaminating bacteria is inhibited, and it is easy to control the temperature of the moromi, so the sake brewed then was of the highest quality. In the Edo Period, this kanshu fetched the highest prices, followed by kan-maezake.

The kan-zukuri system was perfected by the middle of the Edo Period, and Nada aimed to improve quality by deliberately pursuing production methods focused on cold-weather brewing. This is held to be one of the reasons Nada sake flourished.

Incidentally, the character kan (寒) also has meaning in the Japanese calendar, signifying the period from roughly the 5th or 6th of January to the 4th or 5th of February. This thirty-day period begins with shokan (小寒), marking fifteen days from the winter solstice, and ends with setsubun (節分), which by tradition marks the end of winter.