Age your wine in an octopus’s garden in the shade.

One of the great things about drinks like sake, wine, and whiskey is the vast range of nuances in tastes achieved through their ingredients and production methods. This universe of experiences is made even vaster with the process of aging in different containers and environments.

Now, Hokkaido Kaiyo Matsuri is offering a new way to age alcoholic beverages at the bottom of the sea. From 20 March to 19 April, they’re accepting applications for those wanting to submerge their drinks off the shores of Hokkaido from 30 June 2024 to 29 June 2025.

While this isn’t the first underwater cellar, it does offer some unique features. First, this business operates in Hokkaido, which is surrounded by three different seas, each with its own distinct conditions but sharing relatively stable temperatures and a low rate of typhoons, making them ideal for storing bottles in.

Hokkaido Kaiyo Matsuri is also offering a one-of-a-kind monitoring service, where a solar-powered camera is pointed at the cellar 24 hours a day and can be accessed from your smartphone so you can stare at it while imagining how it will taste, and maybe even see a crab scuttle by.

Studies have shown that exposure to certain vibrations can significantly affect the flavor of drinks as they age. Even the minute ripples in the water caused by the wind, animals, or passing ships can create tastes unlikely to be achieved on the surface. In addition, as the bottles sit on the ocean floor, they’ll develop a calcified layer and barnacles to become unique souvenirs all their own.

This service was initially aimed at businesses like sake breweries and restaurants but now is open to the public. It doesn’t come cheap though, at 105,600 yen (US$700) per storage cage, which covers the submerging, monitoring, maintenance, wax sealing, and insurance. The storage cage can hold 12 bottles of any combination of whiskey, gin, rum, tequila, shochu, sake, wine, sparkling wine, champagne, or liqueurs.

▼ However, bottles must be in roughly the same shape as a standard bottle of sake or wine, like these.

If that’s too steep a price, you can always try to track down a bottle of ocean-aged alcohol at a bar or restaurant near you. Also, sake brand Misogi no Mai from Kikonai, Hokkaido, sells an interesting set of two bottles – one sea-aged and one not – for a tax-deductible 30,000 yen ($200) through the Furusato Nozei program. It’s a great way to see what a difference this aging makes but it tends to sell out quickly.

However you do it, it’s an interesting way to experience a new flavor of your favorite drink. Personally, I’ve got a bottle of vintage Dr. Pepper from an excellent terroir that I’ve been thinking of adding some body to and this might just be the thing.

*Requests for undersea aging can be made by filling out this Google Form in Japanese.

Source, images: PR Times
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