May 2013

Sake Story - Sake Serendipity

Posted by Beau Timken in 2013, May, Newsletter, Sake Story
True Sake No you are not crazy! (well just a little) Yes! There have been some themes in this newsletter. I was in London. I was sick. I tasted sake. I tasted poor sake at a restaurant. I tasted sake professionally. I became sicker. I tasted egg-sake etc. Well as fate would have it! (I love typing that when speaking about sake, because inevitably there are always "Those" sort of stories in the sake market. Those serendipitous stories that remind us that we are all connected in some small way.)

As fate would have it I used a sake called Kenbishi from Kobe to heat and add a raw egg to when I was sick. I made "Tamago-zake" with one of my favorite warming sakes, and it was good. I slept well that night and went to work the next day. Ironically and completely out of the blue the soon-to-be owner of Kenbishi, Masataka Shirakashi (he is the current owner's son) walked through the True Sake doors as I was working! No way! WAY! He was there with Satomi Shimanuki, a representative of his importing company called Silk Road Wine & Spirits. I sort of chuckled and said guess what I drank last night! I lead into it by saying "Tamago-sake" and he asked if I was sick? Then I showed him a picture of the Kenbishi bottle and the egg in the cup and said, "Thank you Doctor for making me better." He laughed!

How weird is that? Amazing sake timing!

True Sake So we then started speaking a little bit about Kenbishi and it's important role in the history of sake. The brewery enjoys calling itself the "Oldest brand of sake" with a historical founding date of 1505. (There is a brewery in Akita that has a documented history from 1141 - Sudo Honke makers of Sato no Homare "Pride of the Village"- but they didn't get the national brand credit like Kenbishi.) (Also Hiraizumi was founded in 1487) I told the owner that I always enjoyed his original go-to sake, which is a Honjozo and is sold all over Japan. Sadly, they didn't export this sake to us in the West! Instead he sent a Yamahai Junmai that was aged I believe and I wasn't very fond of it. But since then they did start exporting the Honjozo (900ml) and I am thrilled! So thrilled I used it to improve my health.

After a few moments Masataka pulled out the coolest little 180ml clear bottle of sake and handed it to me. "What do you think?" "It's amazing." "I have never seen a bottle shape like this before and it really makes your crest or logo (pointed sword tip) look amazing on the label." "And best of all the bottle is thick so you can just put it in a pot of hot water to warm the little bottle!" "Exactly!" he beamed. Then came the bummer! "Will these bottles be available in the US?" "No!" "Aaaaaaarrrggggh!"

Way back in the day I used to listen to certain music when drinking sake. And I always used to listen to Aaron Copeland's "Rodeo" when I drank Kenbishi. So one day I decided to send the brewery the disc and told them to drink their rich and powerful sake to this rich and powerful music. He reminded me that I did this and said that he still drinks his sake listening to "Rodeo."

And also ironically I made Kenbishi Honjozo my "Beau-Zone" Sake for June, so by all means check it out!

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