Photo/IllutrationDewasansan rice polished to just 1 percent of its original size appear like herring roe next to the brown rice. (Provided by Tatenokawa Inc.)

  • Photo/Illustraion

SAKATA, Yamagata Prefecture--A sake brewery here has gone to extreme lengths to put out a premium bottle of sake--with a price to match.

Tatenokawa Inc. will begin sales Oct. 1 of an exclusive 150-bottle collection of "junmai daiginjo" that was created using rice polished to just one percent of the kernel core from the original brown rice.

The special sake is called "Komyo" and comes with a hefty price tag--108,000 yen ($960), tax inclusive for a 720-milliliter bottle.

Officials at the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association said they had never heard of a sake using such highly polished rice.

Polishing removes the protein from the grain to give the sake a purer taste. Normally, junmai daiginjo sake is polished to less than 50 percent of the brown rice.

In July, Tatenokawa introduced its Shichiseiki (Seven Star Flag) label that used rice polished down to seven percent of the original brown rice. A 720-ml bottle of that label costs 10,800 yen.

Company officials decided to go even further and strove for the 1-percent level as part of its campaign to create a Japanese sake market with high value-added on par with the best wines in the world.

The sake brewery also used the Dewasansan rice developed by the Yamagata prefectural government exclusively for use in sake brewing. When the rice is polished to 1 percent, each grain looks like a "kazunoko," herring roe, piece.

To get the grain so small involved about 1,800 hours on a rice polishing machine that does the job in three stages.

Brewers also faced the difficult task of trying to create "koji" from such small grains. Koji is steamed rice mixed with the koji mold that acts to convert rice starch to sugar, which is in turn consumed by the sake yeast in the fermentation process.

But a company official said the end product is "a highly refined tasting sake with no impurities."

A total of 22 select retail outlets in Yamagata, Tokyo, Osaka, Aichi and other prefectures will handle the Komyo label. The outlets can be confirmed at Tatenokawa's Japanese website (