“If we make good sake, people will support it.” That’s been Kokuryu motto since Kokuryu was founded in 1804 in the mountains of Fukui. It’s an ancient land, nestled between snowy peaks and the Sea of Japan, not far from the main Soto Zen temple Eihei-ji. From a long tradition of sake brewing, Kokuryu today stands as one of the region’s few survivors. Kokuryu grow own rice. They seek out special yeasts. And they strive for the best in brewing and maturation, hand-crafting only the highest-caliber sakes in small batches. Pure water is vital to the clear, mellow flavor of Kokuryu’s ginjo sakes. Their water starts as snow on the high reaches of the Hakusan mountains, percolates slowly through rocky layers and becomes the subterranean flow of the Kuzuryu—the River of the Nine-Headed Dragon—every drop filtered by nature. As for the rice, Kokuryu select and polish only the highest grades of sake rice, chief among them the prized Yamadanishiki from Hyogo prefecture’s Tojo region and Fukui's own Gohyakumangoku rice. Premium rice is a critical part of quest to brew the best sake, the essence of Kokuryu's brewing practice.