NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nashville is quickly becoming known as a foodie town and the same could be said for specialty beverages.
There are several local breweries and vineyards, but one truly unexpected drink being made in Music City is sake.
News 2 recently went on a tour of the only sake brewery in the state.
At Proper Sake, Byron Stithem does it all.
“I’m the owner and only employee,” Stithem said.
He makes the sake, sells it and operates the bar.
“Sometimes it’s terrifying, but I also love the amount of control from start to finish,” he explained.
Education is also a part of his job, since most of his customers are sake-novices.
“Sake is a rice-based beverage that’s naturally brewed just like beer,” Stithem said.
Stithem said his love for the drink started while he was attending college at Belmont University.
He said he went from making sake in his home to taking the plunge and opening Proper Sake in the SoBro neighborhood.
As soon as you walk into Proper Sake, you’ll find the tasting room where everything was built by Stithem and a friend.
In the back of the bar is where the sake is actually made. There’s a climate-controlled brew-room where all the rice is stored and where the fermentation process starts.
Proper Sake is the only sake brewery in the state of Tennessee and one of only a few in the south.
“I think a lot of people are put off by not knowing exactly what it is, or maybe their first experience being that really hot, aggressive alcohol-forward sake they get at a sushi restaurant,” Stithem said.
For those who haven’t tried sake and want to ease into the experience with a familiar taste, Stithem also ages some of his specialties in whiskey barrels.
“It’s served chill. It’s really versatile. There are a ton of different flavor profiles, so part of my goal to highlight that as a beverage that is just as versatile as wine, beer whiskey whatever,” explained Stithem.
His dedication to perfection bodes well when making the ancient rice-based beverage, which originated in Japan thousands of years ago. It originated in Japan thousands of years ago.
Stithem told News 2 he has a “sheer love for the beverage.”
There’s no doubt Nashville is in a part of the country focused on whiskey and beer, but Stithem said it’s ready for sake.
“I think now is the perfect time for Nashville to do something like this. I’ve been proven right I guess along the way so far, just with the level of reception I’ve had. It’s very humbling,” he said.
Proper Sake is sold at about 20 restaurants in the state and 20 retail shops.
Their tasting room and brewery is located on Ewing Avenue, right off of Lafayette Street.