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Japan brewery kicks a winner with limited edition All Blacks sake

A bottle of All Blacks Junmai Daijingo, which uses images associated with the New Zealand national rugby team, is seen in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, on Sept. 5, 2019. (Mainichi/Soon Lee)

NIKKO, Tochigi -- A sake brewery in this city north of Tokyo has developed a special brand of sake named after the New Zealand national rugby team the All Blacks, which it has brewed in celebration of Japan hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The sake, called "All Blacks Junmai Daiginjo" and brewed by Katayama Shuzo Co., is being sold with the OK of New Zealand Rugby. In homage to the All Blacks, the bottle and its box are a glossy black and feature the team's famed silver fern logo, drawing attention before a single drop has even been poured.

The New Zealand rugby team, known as the All Blacks for their almost entirely black uniforms, is looking to hoist the World Cup trophy for a record-breaking third successive time. The team has already won the tournament three times overall, making it the most successful side in the quadrennial event's 32-year history.

Katayama Shuzo was founded in 1880. Its CEO Takayuki Katayama, 50, won the national high school rugby tournament when he was a student at Kokugakuin Kugayama High School in Tokyo. With that experience in mind, he developed the All Blacks drink over a year starting in 2017. The sake has a fruity flavor, and in 2018 it was released in a limited run of 1,000 bottles, which sold out. This year, another 1,000 are on sale.

Katayama said, "I hope that sake can become an opportunity for people to get interested in the Rugby World Cup."

A bottle of All Blacks Junmai Daiginjo costs 12,000 yen including tax. For inquiries, call the brewery at 0288-21-0039 (in Japanese).

(Japanese original by Soon Lee, Utsunomiya Bureau)

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