Sake's history goes back centuries and centuries, but just how many is a matter of debate. Regardless of the answer, over the last century or so gains in sake-brewing methods and technology have been exponential.

Oct. 1 was Nihonshu no Hi (Sake Day) as designated by the brewing industry. In honor of the millennium's last Sake Day, let's look at some of the major contributions over the last century to what has become today's sake.

1895: Sake yeast was first isolated. Until this time, yeast cells were allowed to simply fall into the vat from the ambient environment. Finally, brewers were able to see just what the little bugs looked like, and to study their life cycle.