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Yogurt-sake KITKAT sees Nestle and Nakata head north

Nestle Japan Ltd. revealed today the new KITKAT Mini Yogurt Sake as the latest in their collaborative sake-inspired snacks with former soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata, set to hit stores later in March.

Following the release of the  KITKAT Mini Yuzu-shu Bijofu (inspired by a sake produced in Kochi Prefecture) in September 2019, Nakata returns for his fourth collaboration with the popular snack brand, this time having turned his attention north to Niizawa Sake Brewery in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan.

“I wanted to use this fourth collaboration to showcase an aspect of Japanese sake that isn’t well known in the world,” commented Nakata in a press release on his decision to work with the brewery’s Ultra-Rich Jersey Yogurt Sake for the latest KITKAT.

First released in 2010, Niizawa’s yogurt sake uses milk produced in the city of Osaki from Jersey cows (a breed said to supply milk for the British royal family) which is richer in taste compared to that produced by the more commonly used Holstein breed.

“It has this perfect balance between the astringency and sweetness of the yogurt, and the refreshing crispness of the sake. It tastes good on any occasion and is a sake that Japan can be proud of,” Nakata remarked of the sake.

The KITKAT Mini Yogurt Sake, which goes on sale nationwide in Japan on March 16, will give consumers and fans of Japanese liquor the chance to experience a taste which might be unfamiliar due to the difficulties in transporting and exporting the yogurt sake.

With the possibility of the fermentation process continuing in the ultra-rich yogurt sake during transportation, there is a risk of the bottle exploding, according to Nakata. For this reason the sake can only be distributed to places where it can be kept below five degrees Celsius making foreign export difficult and this particular kind of sake somewhat rare.

“Until now we’ve not been able to deliver this kind of taste to the rest of the world. Through this KITKAT we can begin to do that as well as open peoples’ minds to new possibilities in Japan’s sake,” Nakata commented in the press release.

Established in 1873, Niizawa Sake Brewery is currently run by fifth-generation president, Iwao Niizawa, who in the year 2000 became the youngest brewmaster in Miyagi Prefecture.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the brewery was forced to change location from Sanbongi in the prefecture’s north to its current location in the town of Kawasaki, near to the border with Yamagata Prefecture.

The idea for the new KITKAT may have taken root following a visit from Nakata shortly after the earthquake in March 2011.

“Immediately after the earthquake Nakata came to our warehouse and was full of praise for the yogurt sake and so I decided to use the Ultra-Rich Jersey Yogurt Sake as a product through which to aid in the recovery of the region,” commented Niizawa in a press release.

“The KITKAT Mini Yogurt Sake went through repeated trials during its production. It has a luxuriousness to it, and the bitterness and astringency are also expressed well. You can really get a sense of it being “yogurt sake,” rather than just yogurt.”

Nestle and Nakata first collaborated on a KITKAT for the release of the Mini Japanese Sake Masuizumi in 2017, working with a brewery in Toyama Prefecture. This was followed by the plum-flavored  KITKAT Mini Umeshu Tsuru-Ume in 2018, based on a sake produced in Wakayama Prefecture.

The collaborative efforts are the top sellers among around 20 regional-themed KITKAT produced by Nestle.

 

 

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