Photo/IllutrationYatsushika Brewery Co. officials pose for photos at the Oita prefectural government office with bottles of the brewery's Yatsushika Sparkling Niji, which won top prizes at competitions in Japan, Britain and France. (Juria Maeda)

OITA--A lightly carbonated sake made in a small town here is proving to be a big contender on the global stage.

"Yatsushika Sparkling Niji," produced by Kokonoe-based Yatsushika Brewery Co., won awards in top categories at three sake competitions in Japan, Britain and France.

"We have earned recognition for our sake product, which we make from Oita Prefecture rice and water," said an exhilarated Masuhiro Aso, the brewery's 36-year-old senior managing director.

The sparkling sake is made using the "in-bottle secondary fermentation" method, whereby the fermentation process continues after the alcohol is bottled.

The carbonated product, made from rice grown in the Kuju Mountain Range, has a mild fragrance and smooth texture. Its acidic taste makes it the perfect accompaniment to snacks such as berries and cheese, officials said.

The alcoholic beverage won the top platinum medal in the “Sparkling Soft” category of the “Kura Master 2019” competition held in Paris, with local sommeliers in the jury noting the beverage's fine and elegant bubbles.

The product was also awarded top prizes at Britain’s International Wine Challenge and Japan’s Sake Competition.

“With a low alcohol content of only 8 percent by volume, the sake would make a perfect aperitif or digestif,” Aso said. “We hope to promote the product along with other food products from Oita Prefecture in the future.”

Yatsushika Sparkling Niji took the brewery about seven years to develop and the product has been on the market since December 2017.

It was unveiled Aug. 21 at the Oita prefectural government office, where Governor Katsusada Hirose sampled the beverage and offered encouraging words to brewery officials.

“The product has sake's characteristic mildness,” Hirose said. “I hope you'll draw on the occasion of the Rugby World Cup (held this year in Japan) to evolve from Yatsushika of Japan to Yatsushika of the world.”

Yatsushika Sparkling Niji is available in 720- and 360-milliliter bottles and priced at 2,727 yen ($25.51) and 1,400 yen, respectively, excluding tax. They can be bought at Yatsushika Brewery’s online shop and other outlets.

Visit Yatsushika Brewery’s website at (http://www.yatsushika.com/ )(in Japanese only).