Asahi Shuzo Co., Ltd. (DASSAI) has announced the listing of DASSAI Beyond the Beyond 2022, made with the best Yamada Nishiki rice in Japan at the Sotheby’s Auction House in New York. It was sold at the final price of 8,125 USD. According to NY Sotheby’s, this is the first ever successful listing and bid for Japanese sake at their auction in New York.



・Asahi Shuzo presents Dassai created with the Grand Prix rice of the “2021 Yamada Nishiki Project that Goes Beyond the Best”(a contest to evaluate the quality of Yamada Nishiki).

Product name: DASSAI Beyond the Beyond 2022

・Auction listing of bottle with serial no. 1 at NY Sotheby’s. The final price of 8,125 USD was determined on 16th September 2022.

◆ About the Grand Prix rice of Dassai’s 2021 Yamada Nishiki Project that Goes Beyond the Best

Breaking Free of Traditional Thinking to Create the World’s Preeminent Sake.

At the Asahi Shuzo brewery, we strive to think outside the box, to question conventional practices and knowledge.

This is how we evolve and move forward.

The Yamada-Nishiki project was launched in the hope it would encourage much the same thinking about rice, thus motivating farmers across Japan to produce a superior sake rice that we would use to craft Beyond the Beyond, a sake that would become our finest ever.

In 2021, the competition’s third year, we introduced a new criterion requiring a small shinpaku (the opaque core of starch at the center of the rice grain) at the center of the grain. This is contrary to conventional thinking that larger shinpaku are more suitable for sake rice. But it was this requirement that enabled a superhigh polishing rate that allowed us to brew a sake with exceptional clarity and a smooth, crisp taste and gorgeous aroma that we believe make Beyond the Beyond 2022 the preeminent sake in the world today.

It is our pleasure to challenge and share with the world the taste that only Dassai can achieve — and that only sake can provide — as we envision a future that goes beyond the beyond.

In order to deliver Beyond the Beyond at its best and freshest, we utilized the latest techniques of advanced freezing technology1, and contained it in a titanium bottle2 that can withstand frozen storage. The bottle cap is the work of Takeshi Ito of the Marumata Shikki Boutique (located in Kiso-Hirasawa, Nagano), one of the greatest Urushi (Japanese lacquer) artists in Japan. This bottle is full of creation and challenges.

※1         “TOMIN” Liquid freezing technology by Technican Co., Ltd. (Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa). Liquid freezing is a method of freezing food with liquid alcohol at -30oC/-22oF.

※2         Titanium bottle developed by SUS Inc. (Tsubamesanjo, Niigata), known for their titanium products under the brand of SUSgallery.

In the 1980s, SUS Inc. became famous for their in-house development of stainless steel thermos flasks.  In 2003, they succeeded in creating the world's first titanium vacuum double vacuum bottle.

◆ About the Listing at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York

Out of 23 bottles, DASSAI Beyond the Beyond 2022 with serial number 1 was exhibited at the NY Sotheby’s Auction House.

* DASSAI Beyond the Beyond sold for 62,500 HKD (around 7,800 USD), setting the record for the highest bid ever for a bottle of sake, at the previous auction held in Hong Kong. In August 2022, three bottles of Beyond the Beyond 2019 were sold at a hotel in Las Vegas, each bottle fetching the price of 15,888 USD.

What is the Sotheby's Auction?

The auction house with the longest history, holding auctions across 9 locations worldwide, including Hong Kong, New York and London. It began in 1744 when Samuel Baker, a book dealer in London, held an auction of antiquarian books with the purpose of providing a space where sellers and buyers could trade. Besides impressionism and modern art, contemporary art, Chinese and Japanese art, jewelry and watch sections, wine auctions were also held regularly.

◆ About Yamada Nishiki

In 2021, the third year of the Yamada-Nishiki Project, the Grand Prix prize went to Takada Farm in Okayama Prefecture. Asahi Shuzo purchased 60 bales (3,600 kg) of the Grand Prix-winning rice for \30 million, or approximately US$222,000*— about 20 times the standard price. This rice was used to create DASSAI Beyond the Beyond 2022.

* Calculated at the exchange rate: US$1 = 135 yen (August 2022)

◆ Reference “Yamada Nishiki Project 2021 that Exceeds the Highest Level” Awards Ceremony

◆ Reference  About Takada Farm

The Koujo District in southwestern Okayama City is a place where fields of crops and scattered houses cover the plain. It is there, in Okayama Prefecture, that Takada Farm — the Grand Prix winner of Yamada-Nishiki Project 2021 — runs an agricultural business whose crops include the rice that would be used to craft Beyond the Beyond 2022.

“When I started in agriculture 28 years ago, my family was already growing Yamada-Nishiki,” said Masato Takada, the farm’s manager, as he described the journey that led to winning the Grand Prix. “The production volume at that time was not much. We started delivering our Yamada-Nishiki to Asahi Shuzo about 10 years ago after my father met Chairman Hiroshi Sakurai. At first, we were anxious because Dassai was well-known inside and outside Japan. I knew Asahi Shuzo would evaluate our rice very carefully. I remember telling my sons that we must not fail to meet their expectations.”

For Takada, the Yamada-Nishiki Project was a motivational challenge. “I felt this project would inspire the hopes and dreams of Japanese farmers for the future of agriculture, and this thought made me even more determined,” he said. “We didn’t enter the first contest in 2019 because I was not satisfied with the shinpaku of our rice. I participated in the second contest in 2020. But after seeing the rice produced by the Grand Prix winner Masaharu Kitajima of Fukuoka Prefecture, I knew I had no chance of winning.”

The turning point came when Asahi Shuzo revised its screening criteria for the third year. “I thought I could produce rice that had a smaller shinpaku in the center of the grain,” Takada said. “I set aside one hectare (2.47 acres) exclusively for rice. The key is to give a smaller amount of fertilizer at an early stage of rice growing and top-dressing when the rice begins to tassel, as well as paying attention to water management.”

Takada smiles when he recalls the contest. “As the media covered our winning, other farmers in neighboring areas also became motivated,” he said. “We all improve by learning from one another, but we are also rivals. I will not let them beat me. I’m aiming to win the Grand Prix prize for the second consecutive year.”