Water good enough to satisfy even the most particular of sake brewers has made Ely the perfect place to launch a new business specialising in a sparkling variety of the famous Japanese rice wine.
It’s in the water: Sake Brewery launches in Ely with help from Growth Works
But the decision by its Japanese investors to locate The Sparkling Sake Brewery in Cambridgeshire was made even easier by the Combined Authority’s Growth Works service, which supports the set up and growth of innovative companies into the region.
The brewery is the first in the world dedicated exclusively to the production of sparkling sake. The first batch of its first official brewing season (2021-22) ‘awa’ was officially released this week (19 October 2021).
The ambition is to establish sparkling sake more widely in the UK market where Ely will operate as the European HQ of a company whose global HQ is in Saitama, Japan. By 2023 the Ely brewery aims to support five jobs.
Growth Works supports business growth, employment and skills and attracts innovative companies from around the world into Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. It features a suite of services which contribute to boosting the economy.
Naoki Toyota, the UK managing director of The Sparkling Sake Brewery (pictured), said: "Setting up my business in the UK seemed like a challenge when I was thinking about this from Japan. I am so grateful that I was connected to Growth Works and the warm welcome and support which was extended to help make my UK dreams a reality. Growth Works introduced me to the local community and the potential grants which are available to start-up companies like my own.
“The current pandemic impacts on global supply chains. The economy and consumer behaviour has made it incredibly challenging for me to forecast our turnover with confidence. The goal is to produce 5,000 litres in year one, growing the volume by 20% over the next three to five years. The number of jobs we could forecast creating is very much linked to the pace at which we can confidently increase our volume by meaningful percentages. Our hope is to be able to provide not only jobs for the local economy but share and cultivate local the skill of brewing sake in the UK.”
Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson said: “It is fantastic that Ely has been chosen as an ideal place to base a brewery specialising in such an iconic Japanese product.
“It is easy to say that we are “open for business”, what is important is the actions we take to continue to attract potential investors domestically and globally. One of my core values is co-operation and Growth Works is playing an important role in working with those investors and businesses to set up and grow in our region.
“I wish Naoki the very best for this venture and look forward to trying a glass of sparkling sake brewed with the world class water we have in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough!”
Austen Adams, Chairman of the Business Board said: “It is fantastic to see the attractiveness of Cambridgeshire to such a specialist business and just as pleasing that our Growth Works service has helped make that investment into our economy smooth and straightforward. The Growth Works service is still in its opening phases, but examples like this show just what a positive effect it can have on successful international investment.”
Sake is 80% water and Ely’s water has plenty of mineral content which is seen as perfect for creating delicate bubbles as well as an elegant still sake which is the base before the second fermentation. The second fermentation creates sparkling sake’s bubbles by the interaction between the rice, microorganisms and the water. Ely’s water is also low in iron and manganese which are two elements detrimental to sake.
The brewery focuses on Japanese craftsmanship, producing handmade, small batches of sake which is made sparkling by a natural process of fermentation, rather than through the addition of carbon dioxide gas or sugar. The brewery says its philosophy is based on the ‘beauty of nature’s impermanence’, an idea which has special significance in Japan around human’s coexistence with nature in all its ephemerality.
The Combined Authority is made up of eight founding members across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Each partner is represented by their leader at Combined Authority meetings.