To hear Jim Rion tell it, Ohmine Shuzo in Yamaguchi Prefecture is less a sake brewery and more a sake industry black box a la Willy Wonka’s enigmatic chocolate factory.

Staffed by “staff dressed in chic black designer uniforms,” the premises look like “a modernist rice museum,” and they offer tastings but not tours. The head brewer’s name is not public. The company history written on the cafe signboard consists of a terse seven words: “Born. Dead. Reborn. Against Sake World.” Their PR department will only provide generic, unsatisfying statements about their junmai-daiginjō sake.

Discovering Yamaguchi Sake: A Taster’s Guide to Breweries, Culture, and Terrain, by Jim Rion.228 pagesSTONE BRIDGE PRESS, Nonfiction.