Sake Thoughts - The "Case" For Selling More Sake | True Sake
March 2010

Sake Thoughts - The "Case" For Selling More Sake

Posted by Beau Timken in 2010, March, Newsletter
cases of sake I rarely do this, but I will give you the point of this diatribe up front so you do not have to dig and dig and dig to glean the meaning of this wonderful story about those crazy cardboard contraptions that hold sake bottles together in a cuddly dark little home with an emphasis on non-clinking! The point is this - why in the heck don't you buy a case of sake? You buy cases of wine? You buy cases of beer? What gives?

Okay - back to the "wonderful story." I bought my first case of sake roughly 13 years ago. Yup! A big and fun case of Kikusui Junmai Ginjo with those cool light blue bottles that used to be frosted before they became pounded blue glass. (I actually have two of these bottles in my deep cooling fridge and I use the other now empty bottles with their boxes for window displays at times.) But where in the world could one buy a case of sake back in that day? There were no True Sakes to be sure, so I had to beg and plead with my friend who owns a sushi restaurant in North Beach! (Thank you K-san) I cannot remember what I paid for those 12 bottles, but I bet it was steep on account of the "restaurant pricing." (Thanks again K-san!) Nevertheless my enthusiasm for sake was so keen and on account of the fact that I drank his whole very solid menu from top to bottom and back numerous times, he did it for me. (Thank you K-san!)

It feels great to walk into your home with 12 bottles of sake. Now some of you may be saying "wait wait wait - that's an awful lot of sake!" Others maybe saying "Sissy - you should have bought two cases - wimp!" Well whatever you are saying or thinking remember I could have consumed one of those bottles per month for the next year. 12 is not a scary number - 12 weeks is - if my math is correct - one bottle per week for 12 weeks! Now 12 is a scary number if you are speaking days! (Unless of course you are attending Burning Man where cases of sake come in handy!) Point being a case should not be considered a mountain when in fact it is a big picture molehill.

Here's where the story gets more wonderful. Cases are just down right wacky in the "Japanese Sake Biz." Why? Because - get this - a case is not always 12! Over the years I had to learn the hard way. For example I supplied sake to an extremely famous - well let's call him a sailor as he just won the America's Cup - and wealthy individual for a large event featuring some tremendous sakes. They ordered many cases. I ordered cases from my distributors and two days before said event it was made clear to me that the sakes that they wanted came in 6-bottle cases when they and I wanted 12-bottle cases. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I had to jump on the phone and drive to make up the difference. Lesson number one! Then there was the day that I wanted to order a certain 300ml Junmai for the store and ordered a case - thinking 12 bottles. Lo and behold this case came with 30 bottles in it. What? Lesson Number 2!

Yes - the case of sake is an interesting case! One of my brewers in Japan considers a case 10 bottles (for the historical measuring system used to measure sake quantities). So we have 6-10-12-20-30 bottle cases, and the result has been that I finally have learned to order by bottle number and not cases! Hah! That said when you order your first case we of course will make it 30! Joking. Think in terms of 6 for Daiginjo and 12 for Ginjo and Junmai - in general! Why? Because many Daiginjos come in beautiful individual boxes which take up a lot of room!

Now here is where the story gets even more wonderfuller-er! And this boarders on freakish! I'm man enough to admit when I am a freak. And yes, when it comes to cases - I am a freak! Ummmm care to explain? Why sure! Each case is packed at the brewery, usually within a room that is sealed. Thus, the air of that room gets trapped in the box when sealed. You getting me here? So roughly 40 days later when the case is on the floor of True Sake and I use a box cutter to open the tape my first action is to lift the lid and smell the contents! You bet. I said it. I try to smell the breweries when I open each and every case. Would I continue to do this if it didn't work? Not a chance as I look pretty dorky with my head in a box. But it is absolutely true. I can smell the breweries and each is distinctive. I especially like opening the cases from kura that I have visited or worked at as these aromas remind me of home. I smell the brewery within the case and then I visualize where and who packs the cases. It's fun for me. An aromatic reminder! Better yet though is when I have opened certain cases for years - smelled the brewery and then get a chance to visit it! A premonition of olfactory senses! I get weird looks from the owners when they see me sniffing in their breweries - they usually get defensive - so then I am forced to explain - they laugh and then call me a freak!

Now the only problem with cases is when they don't work! And over the years we have been delivered cases that appear to be solid only to find out the bottles on the inside are bleeding to death - usually on our carpet! This is actually a rare occurrence, and the fault is definitely on the transporting of the brews, and not so much on the case itself. Call it operator error. That said, the cases themselves used to be very arty and reflected the killer packaging of the sakes within. Logo cases are the best. But it seems that many brewers are cutting back on the spending involved with branding their cases! Perhaps if we sold more cases to customers then they would not have to cut back. Thus in a sense, you - yes you - personally have ownership in the fact that you are letting the brewers down by not buying cases of sake. It's your damn fault! BUT it's never to late to help. You still have time to save the case of sake business. Act fast!

Here now is the most wonderfullest-est part of the case for sake story! If you buy a case of same sake from us we will take 10% right off that order. Yes Siree! Essentially we pay the tax. Not bad for a gift to yourself that can last 6 days or 12 weeks or 6 months however you want to cut it! And trust me when I say that it is really fun to open your own case and smell the brewery with your own nose all the while saving 10%.

NOTE: We usually do not sit on cases of sake in our inventory. Thus, it is wise to order in advance or stop by and place an order for a future pick-up.

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