Unique Zenkuro Sake Brewery Turning Heads
New Zealand is famous for its award-winning wines, but now the country’s first and only sake brewery, Zenkuro Sake in Queenstown, is making a name for itself on the world stage.
Zenkuro Sake has only been in business for three years, but has already taken home gold and silver awards at the prestigious London Sake Challenge.
Only two breweries outside of Japan took home prizes, making the young company’s success particularly impressive. The secret to their award-winning beverage, according to head brewer David Joll, 55, is Queenstown’s water.
“The water here is incredibly soft,” Joll explains. “For example, Queenstown water has almost no chlorine. It’s essential to have a little [chlorine] when making sake, for the yeast, but having a smaller amount allows for a slower fermentation process.”
Having first visited Japan on a six-month exchange when he was 17, Joll has long admired Japanese culture and sake.
Together with his two Queenstown-based business partners, Richard Ryall, 54, and Craig MacLachlan, 55, the team at Zenkuro are all Japanophiles. All three have lived and worked in Japan, are fluent in the language and are no strangers to turning their passions into a business.
As well as Zenkuro Sake, the three men have run, for almost 25 years, a New Zealand-based tour company specialising in taking Japanese travellers on hiking tours around Queenstown. Ryall and MacLachlan have also co-authored a Lonely Planet guide to hiking in Japan.
The brewery’s brand, “Zenkuro,” is a subtle hat tip to the trio’s love of their national rugby team, the All Blacks. “Zen” translates to “completely” or “all,” while “kuro” is Japanese for “black.”
Joll and his team are hoping to use the Rugby World Cup in 2019 to make Zenkuro’s entry into the Japanese market.
Regardless of how the All Blacks and Zenkuro perform next year, Joll is excited for the future.
“I’ve finally found what I want I love doing in life,” he says.
Original article by Anna Watanabe, The Japan Times, April 14, 2018.