Booze lovers, rejoice! For years, there was one massive omission from the hot drinks section in convenience stores come winter: hot sake. Now, Nihonsakari, a major sake brewing company in Hyogo prefecture, has finally managed to bottle the hot stuff and make it drinkable. The cold months ahead just became a whole lot merrier.
Why the delay, you ask? Well, sake quality generally deteriorates considerably when heated, so hot sake could not be sold at convenience stores – until Nihonsakari succeeded in creating yeast that wouldn’t easily emit the smell of degraded sake. After years of work, they managed to develop a quality sake that does not suffer from reduced flavour, even when heated repeatedly.
It seems like there is a little snag though: Where to actually place the cans in the convenience stores. Although it's been on sale since October 2, we've been having some difficulty finding it at our local konbini... until we started looking at the regular unchilled booze section. Bingo! Hot sake, but not so hot.
We figure the culprit seems to be that the warming containers used for canned hot tea and coffee are designed for exactly that – non-alcoholic drinks. Alcohol needs to be labelled with a big sticker shouting that you're now entering the booze section, and that it can only be sold to over-20s. Indeed, it would probably need its own proper warming container, which none of the convenience stores seem to have created or invested in until this day. (We suggest something nice and visible, like next to the nikuman).
We're keeping our fingers crossed: Once it does go on sale, we foresee it becoming winter 2017/2018's biggest hit. Especially since it retails for a mere ¥300 or so.
Yes, the practicalities may still need to be worked out, but we're so happy with the concept in itself that we've added it as a nominee in our 2017 Love Tokyo Awards. Check out the other Best Product nominees here.