Episode-95: Interviewing George Briant Parsons Inoue of Inoue Shuzo

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It is not so uncommon these days to come across non-Japanese sake brewers, indeed we have featured many on this show, but in the case of this week’s guest, sake is quite literally in his family’s DNA. Having been raised in the US, George Briant Inoue Parsons is now preparing to take over from his uncle to run Inoue Shuzo, makers of Hakoneyama brand sake, a 100 year old sake brewery in Kanagawa. It’s a role George never expected would fall to him, and he needed some persuasion to take up the family mantle, but he gave up a career in the hotel industry in Hawaii on hold to answer the call.

As the 8th generation president in-waiting, he now faces the challenge of keeping his family tradition alive while exploring new frontiers to take the brewery into the modern age. In an industry as old as sake with so many traditions and rules, it is a tough task for any non-Japanese to adapt, but George has had the added pressure of family expectation. Suffice to say, it has been a huge learning experience, and this is just the beginning of his journey. George might be half Japanese, but having spent such a long time outside Japan, he has that natural outsider appreciation for the deeper elements of Japanese sake culture and he is able to take a fresh perspective that people who have grown up in the country perhaps cannot. He is in a rather unique position of being able to look outwardly at his brewery’s heritage and this may provide hints on what direction to steer it in the future. Perhaps following in the footsteps of his great grandfather who was something of a pioneer in promoting sake overseas, George is also trying to bring his family’s sake to an international stage. 

Join Sebastien Lemoine and Christopher Hughes as they explore George’s sake beginnings and his vision for the brewery.

We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with more Sake on Air.
Until then, kampai!

Sake on Air is made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association and is broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.