A drop of pure design helps premium sake producer make a splash
In 2010, Takeshi Akiyama resurrected the small sake distillery, and the company, that his grandfather had been forced to wind up 50 years before. Tutored by a seasoned sake master, he revived the sweet, rich recipe that had served the Ohmine distillery for three centuries, using local rice and spring water. The sake would be traditional; its packaging would not be.
The sake section of any Japanese supermarket is a wall of conventional brown and green bottles, most of them with paper labels displaying the brand in black brush script. Takeshi Akiyama wanted something dramatically different: packaging that would express the exclusivity of Ohmine’s limited-volume product, easily distinguish its three sake grades for an international market and, if possible, protect it from direct light to prevent a loss of quality.
Opaque, opal-white glass keeps Ohmine sake completely insulated from direct light, and allows the product name to be screenprinted directly onto the glass, instead of a label. To convey the three qualities of sake, we drew on the fermentation process, in which rice grains are “polished” to remove their outer bran. The more bran is removed, the less rice is required, and the higher the quality of sake. The Ohmine Junmai bottle has three grains; Junmai Ginjo has two; and the very special brew, Junmai Daiginjo has one.
Ohmine’s white bottle has made quite a splash. It has won international press coverage and design awards for the little brewery from Mine City, and helped it reach some very special dinner tables. The sake has been served in three-star Michelin restaurants and to world leaders at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2013 in Davos, Switzerland. It’s also been introduced to other countries. A nice drop of design has made all the difference.
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