Yoigokochi Sake Importers has its roots in the early 2000s in Kyoto. The old capital has been Dick’s habitat in Japan, where he since 1987 has been spending half of his time. His immersion into the world of sake was only very slow, although chance meetings - years in between - with local shiboritate, a famous fruity daiginjō, and a local-casked taruzake made him gradually more interested. The decisive turning point came in 2001 in the form of a visit without any preparation or expectation to Yoram’s sake bar, which proved to be a true (pure!) sake heaven. This instantaneously led to a visit to Kyoto’s other pure sake heaven, Ukai Shōten. Entry at the highest level of the world’s best sake bar and sake store, both strictly pure sake and with a wide selection of unpasteurised sake and long-matured sake, made for a routine of weekly visits to both places, and to more and more pure-sake breweries, stores, bars and restaurants.
The company Yoigokochi Sake Importers was established in 2008 upon Dick’s long term return to Europe. He enticed Froukje, a friend from their student days who had made a career in the international food sales sector, to join and together they started out the world’s first 100% pure sake importing and distributing company. Their first collection consisted of a dozen of Ukai and Yoram mainstays, which in the twelve years since has expanded to a range of 130 products from 51 producers, selected on the basis of their regular visits to pure sake breweries, bars, restaurants, etc and study of sake literature. The company’s virtual headquarters is as ever located in the Netherlands, but the Yoigokochi pure sake collection is distributed in some 20 European countries, and since 2018 also in North America.
Although this was not planned from the start, considering the many similarities between the pure sake and natural wine movements it probably was inevitable that Yoigokochi’s first foreign distributor was a natural wine importer (Norway’s NonDos) and that after its participation in the first edition of Raw Wine (London 2012) it actively immersed itself in the natural wine world. The welcome was warm and enthousiastic, and it was also at this same wine fair that we found out that the groundless criticisms of natural wine were exactly the same as those of unpasteurised sake. We felt at home, and determined to take pure sake to where the natural wines were. Not because of any specific intrinsic Japanese elements in sake but because of pure sake’s common character as a fermented drink full of purity, quality, depth and variety.