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Sake On Air

Food & Cooking Podcasts

A bi-weekly podcast exploring the stories of sake. Brought to you by experts on the front lines of the industry in Japan.

A bi-weekly podcast exploring the stories of sake. Brought to you by experts on the front lines of the industry in Japan.




A bi-weekly podcast exploring the stories of sake. Brought to you by experts on the front lines of the industry in Japan.




Amazake with Shoko Baba of Hakkaisan

How many of our listeners are familiar with amazake? Despite having clear progenitor qualities to this show’s favorite beverage, this non-alcoholic, koji-fermented drink hasn’t quite amassed the international mindshare of its intoxicating cousin – yet.Although the core principle and function in preparing and making amazake shares a great deal with the early stages of sake-making, probably one of the biggest reasons it has taken a while to reach the global stage is the fact that Japan more or...


Kura Master with Xavier Thuizat

Any of our listeners that tuned into Sake Future Summit 2020 will likely already be familiar with the brilliant work of this week’s guest, Hotel de Crillion Chef Sommelier, Xavier Thuizat. In that session, together with Marco Pelletier (of Vantre), we looked at what it will take to insert sake into the upper echelon of the French dining experience.One crucial topic we didn’t touch upon, however, is the unprecedented sake competition Xavier established which thrust him into the sake industry...


Pottery and Sake with Robert Yellin

An exploration into the various types of drinking vessels and related wares that have for centuries shaped the service and enjoyment of sake is one of the most frequently requested show topics that we get.That’s why this week we’re thrilled to (finally!) welcome Robert Yellin to the show.Owner and curator of Robert Yellin Yakimono Gallery in the heart of Kyoto, over the past 30+ years Robert has dedicated himself to the exploration of the world of yakimono – literally “fired things,”...


Kioke, Shoyu, Sake, and Fermentation

Last January Sebastien and Justin travelled to Shodoshima, the island of kioke, shoyu, and olives, located off the coast of Kagawa Prefecture of Shikoku Island in Western Japan.The purpose? To take part in the Kioke Summit hosted by Yamaroku Shoyu. Why are we visiting a shoyu (soy sauce) maker for an episode of Sake On Air? A quick internet search for any combination of the key words above will tell you why, but here’s the gist: With almost no one left in Japan (which means, in the world)...


Two-year Anniversary Special (Live)

Thank you. Two years ago Sebastien, Big Chris, Justin, John and Little Chris huddled around some microphones after-hours at the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center and tried to sort out how to approach an episode of Sake On Air. We stumbled our way through a year with all kinds of amazing guests and inspiring events. Along the way, we were incredibly lucky to be able to welcome Rebekah and Marie into the fold. Over the next year, things got a bit smoother and more polished.And then COVID...


Kurabito Life

The role of the “kurabito” – one who works in a sake brewery – is incredibly varied. While the traditional image is that of a team of brewers hunkered down for a long brewing season of focus and isolation, nowadays the term has come to encompass the diverse range of tasks at the brewery involved in seeing a bottle of sake through from start to finish. That being said, for the most part, having a physical hand in the process of crafting sake, in more cases than not, is often central to the...


Hannyatou: Chef Soma & Russell King

Drink Sake. Stay Soba. It’s this simple mantra that has made Seattle’s Hannyatou and its neighboring soba destination Kamonegi almost overnight mainstays for the sake-inspired community of the Pacific Northwest.It was almost exactly one year ago that Justin sat down with and renowned soba chef Mutsuko Soma and sake specialist partner-in-crime Russell King at their (then) newly-opened fermented creation-driven sake bar, Hannyatou. The pair’s appreciation for craft along with their fearless...


The SG Shochu with Joshin Atone

Lately it feels as though we’re teetering on the verge of shochu’s day in the limelight. Japan’s indigenous spirit with about as much market and mindshare as the beverage more commonly associated with the island nation – sake – has been gradually demanding more and more attention amongst some many of the world’s most prolific bartenders, mixologists and connoisseurs of fine spirits. However, despite the category’s all-too-common association at home, the incredibly diverse, distinct and...


The State of Sake Amidst COVID 19: Part 2

Thanks for tuning in to Part 2 of our special focusing on the current impact of COVID-19 on the sake and shochu industries. If you haven’t yet listened to Part 1, where we interview a number of significant individuals with unique perspective on the industry here in Japan, that’s a great place to start. You can find that here.Slightly different from Part 1, this particular recording is more discussion-based. This time around several of your regular Sake On Air hosts, including John Gauntner,...


The State of Sake Amidst COVID 19: Part 1

This week, we’re bringing you a double episode exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the sake industry here in Japan, and how that impact is beginning to reverberate through the international market.The entire nation of Japan, while never undergoing a formal lockdown, was officially placed on State of Emergency status as of April 7th, a state which continued until May 31st, with the country gradually easing restrictions in phases over the several weeks that followed, leading to a complete...


Natsuzake is Summer Sake

While this summer has certainly been a lot of things for many of our listeners, we hope that one thing which has been a defining mainstay throughout the summer of 2020 has been sake.Summer is gradually winding down a bit at this point, but we thought it was about time we did a (semi-)timely episode that celebrates the sake of the season. For summer, that’s natsuzake. Literally “summer” (natsu) “sake” (zake), this relatively recent entry into the seasonal release calendar has rapidly garnered...


Shochu Talk: 1st Edition

This week’s episode is precisely what you’d assume it to be: the crew talking shochu.It had been a bit too long since we’d last done a real shochu-centric show, so we decided to drag Christopher Pellegrini into the studio to update us on some of the latest industry happenings and also humor our questions and musings.While we do get down into the nitty-gritty a bit, this week’s show is actually very casual and free-form. Instead of focusing on something very specific, taking a little time to...


Tahoma Fuji Sake with Andrew Neyens

Although we’re all still grounded here in Japan, this week we’re getting off the island for a visit to the great Pacific Northwest to chat with Andrew Neyens, the one-man-band behind Seattle’s Tahoma Fuji Sake.Between stints at some of Toyama’s most exciting and inspiring breweries, including Fumigiku Shuzo (makers of Haneya) and Masuda Shuzo (makers of Masuizumi), as well as attempts to scratch a similar itch at craft beer producers in the greater Seattle area, Andrew finally settled upon...


Sake’s Missing Link with Pernod Ricard’s Yann Soenen

With LINK, Pernod Ricard made their first foray into the world of sake. Bringing together the craftmanship and nuance of Chivas Regal with the pioneering spirit of Toyama’s Masuda Shuzo – makers of Masuizumi - the company in charge of many of the world’s most iconic labels in spirits set out to bring an unprecedented proposal to the world of sake.But why sake? And why now? This week Sebastien and Justin welcome Marketing Director for Pernod Ricard Japan, Yann Soenen, to discuss this and...


Know Your Hosts: Rebekah Wilson-Lye & John Gauntner

Here it is! The final installment of our “Know Your Hosts” series, introducing our listeners to the minds and motivations behind Sake on Air.For the first half of this week’s show, we have Rebekah Wilson-Lye in the hot seat. Currently the head of international marketing and public relations for Japan Craft Sake Company, we delve into not only the personal journey that led her from New Zealand to the Izu Peninsula, but also her evolution in the industry as she went from school teacher, to...


Dojima Sake with Tony Mitchell

Like most all of our listeners, we’re keeping rather close to home these days. The nature of things makes it a bit challenging for the team to gather and record, but on the bright side, it’s given us the time to dig through the archives and finally get around to editing some of our on-the-road interviews that have been gradually piling up over the past several months. Starting this week, we bring you “Sake-On-Air-On-The-Road”!For this week’s show, Big Chris (Hughes) is interviewing Tony...


Hot Sake (Kanzake) 101

This week we’re tackling arguably one of the most misunderstood segments of the sake world:Kanzake, often simply referred to as, Hot Sake.For a complex web of reasons, the quality and general nature of hot (or warm) sake is still shrouded in generations of preconception and misconception. However along with an aggressive reexamination of “Why?” in relation to lost practices in food and beverage, kanzake is in the midst of a mini-resurgence, particularly in Japan. Over the past decade, not...


Awamori 101

To all of our listeners: thank you for your patience.As much as we go out of our way to include awamori as part of the broader shochu conversation, despite many months of listener requests, we have yet to do an entire episode dedicated to Okinawa’s incredible indigenous spirit. Until now!The progenitor of the entire shochu category, the now geographically indicated Ryukyu Awamori has been deeply tied to the lifestyle and culture of the Okinawan people for at least the past 600 years. With...


Building a Brewery Down Under with Zenkuro & Melbourne Sake (Part 2)

As promised, we’re coming right back with Part 2 of our exploration into what goes into paving the way for a brand new sake brewery outside of Japan. We continue our conversation with David Joll, owner and head brewer at Queenstown’s, Zenkuro, along with Matthew Shaw, co-owner and head brewer Melbourne Sake, which if all goes according to plan, should be opening its doors in the relatively near future.You have the same SOA crew as last week, with Marie Nagata, Chris Hughes, Justin Potts, and...


Building Breweries Down Under with Zenkuro & Melbourne Sake (Part 1)

It now feels like eons ago when, only just last month, the global sake community seemed to have all flocked to Japan for the final days of the winter brewing season. My how the world has changed… It was during this time that we managed to catch up with David Joll, owner and head brewer at Queenstown’s pioneering sake brewery, Zenkuro, and Mathew Kingsley-Shaw, co-owner and head brewer at the soon-to-be Melbourne Sake. The Sake On Air team of Marie Nagata, Chris Hughes, Justin Potts, and...