Sake Spotlight - Larry Mechanic Goes For Three!
"Sake Spotlight" is a unique section within the Newsletter that takes a closer look at specific sakes that may be purchased at True Sake. I approach different professionals within the industry to give their perspectives and insights to the how, what and why's for very special sakes. These insiders are importers, brewers, authors, sake sommeliers, or just enthusiasts who will take your knowledge base a little further. What I like about this segment is that often my review is quite different than that of the guest professional's adding to the point that there is no right or wrong when discussing your opinion about sake.
This month the winds are blowing hard from the Midwest as the man known as "Windy" graciously pours three different brews at various temperature points. I charged Larry Mechanic with the same request that I do for all of my "Spotlighters" to pick a brew and rip it apart. Well Senior Mechanic would have nothing to do with that and decided to focus on three brews that do different things at different temperatures. So who is this sake scientist from the wind swept shores of Chicago?
Larry Mechanic is a Certified Saké Professional and is founding consultant of Windy City Saké, a consulting service in Chicago that provides educational seminars for corporations and culinary schools; consulting services for restaurateurs and wine/liquor retailers; marketing support and promotional guidance for importers, distributors & retailers, and private saké tastings.
His writings have appeared in numerous local and national publications, including Food and Wine, Encyclopedia Britannia Magazine and Crain's Chicago Business. Larry serves as advisor for saké and shochu tastings at the Beverage Tasting Institute of Chicago and teaches an Introduction to Saké class within the Beverage Management curriculum at acclaimed culinary school Kendall College.
Larry is also organizer of the Chicago Saké Meetup Group, a fun and casual way to learn about saké while sharing in nihonshu fellowship . Larry also just formed the World Saké Meetup group with the intent of creating a virtual, global network of saké enthusiasts around the world.
I will be honest and say that I had to cut at least two pages of Larry's efforts in order to keep this Newsletter down in size, but what I cut is so very well worth reading. So if you would like to read some history and lore about warming sake please by all means email Larry yourself and ask for the edits that are scattered on the True Sake floor - his email address isWindyCitySake @ gmail.com.
You go Larry:
|The following are the results of a tasting of several types of saké that were tasted here in Chicago by a panel of esteemed and exquisite palates.The tasting format:
The saké were selected for very specific flavor profile, rice varietal or other Key Characteristics that might provide some hint of direction if one were to be lookin to try the good stuff, warmed.
The temperatures that the 3 were tasted at were:
The saké that were tasted were:
Here are the results and the key flavor characteristic of the selected saké:
A couple of side notes...
Bottom line... from the taster's: Warmth emphasizes all characteristics, but metamorph's underlying less favorable tastes, that were more subdued or submerged when chilled.
So, the path...
Enjoy the journey.
The tasting was conducted at Tanoshii Japanese restaurant and the kind participants of the panel were:
That was awesome. Larry is one of the new breed sake freakers like myself who cannot take sake for sake's sake - we must push the boundaries because we are not bound to sake morays and customs. Well done on this. And as I mentioned to Larry before his experiment I usually recommend for folks to drink the Kasumi Tsuru at room temperature and told him that on several "warming" experiences I have always been let down by the Kamoizumi Dai Ginjo - which by flavor and feeling one would swear would warm well! Herewith are my chilled reviews for each of the three sakes mentioned above:
|•||Koshi no Omachi "Ancient Rice"
From Niigata Prefecture.
SMV: +3.5 Acidity: 1.2
A vast array of fruit aromas such as strawberry, plum, grape, and blueberry blended with rose water and minerals makes up the nose on this Dai Ginjo that is milled to 40%. There are not a lot of "Omachi" rice Dai Ginjos out there so this guy is not only rare it is also delicious. Deep and rich it has a plump and chunky personality loaded with flavors that float on a clean creamy soft fluid. A great example of a wide mouth sake that drinks dry and zesty.
WINE: Chewy Reds/ Fat Whites
FOODS: Grilled fish, shellfish, sushi, clean pasta.
|•||Kasumi Tsuru " The Crane"
From Hyogo Prefecture.
SMV: +3 Acidity: 1.4
The nose on this traditionally-made Yamahai sake is a mix of berries, minerals, citrus, and damp wood. Behold a velvety-soft Ginjo that is loaded with flavors that run deep and clean. Extremely round and smooth for a Yamahai. There is an elegance that just radiates from this semi-dry silky ride, and take note of a layer of marshmallow amongst smoky elements. Try this one at room temp.
WINE: Pinot Noir/ French Chardonnay
BEERS: Ales with color
FOODS: Lobster with butter, shellfish, pickles, grilled chicken, creamy cheeses.
|•||Kamoizumi Junmai Dai Ginjo "Autumnal Elixir"
From Hiroshima Prefecture.
Junmai Dai Ginjo.
SMV: +1.5 Acidity: 1.2
This Dai Ginjo has a subtle nose of caramel and koji rice. It is a big-flavored Dai Ginjo that starts very clean and smooth and has a nice chewy viscosity. Look for flavors such as persimmon, mild caramel, ripe rich fruits and a hidden layer of mushroom. The finish tends to be more fruit-filled than the start. Deep and rich this Dai Ginjo is gloriously different than most.
WINE: Earthy Burgundy's
BEER: Honey Ales/Ambers
FOODS: Meats and Game, especially venison and duck.
Thank you once again Larry and if you would like more info then here it is from the man himself:
For more info about the embryonic World Saké Meetup group, please visit:http://sake.meetup.com/16/
"The Japanese way of life embodies a sense of the ancient, where the culture is expressed with compelling lyrical and poetic imagery. Pick up a bottle of saké and you might not recall its Japanese name ,but you'll remember you were drinking something called Snow Shadow, Wishing Well or Into Your Soul".