Dear Sake Drinker,
Welcome to the June Issue of America's sake-centric Newsletter. In
this issue read the top 10 reasons why sake isn't more popular, catch
up on a Canadian making Japanese sake in Norway, make a bid on set of
nama sakes in our first newsletter auction for the benefit of
earthquake relief in Japan, see all the new store arrivals, and learn
how to select a non-radioactive sake.
In this issue:
Monday, 6/13: Closed 12-4pm (Open 4-7pm)
Sake Environment - The TOP TEN Reasons Why Sake Isn't More Popular
I was at a dinner party the other night and the conversation turned to
sake. For the next ten minutes people raved about how much they loved
it. I mean it was like being at a sake love fest. The compliments were
many and quite amazing. I shook my head in that ol' man of wisdom slow
up and down nod. If I had a long grey goatee I would have surely been
stroking it to the rhythm of the positive comments. Then at the next
pause in the song of "we love sake" one of the guests asked me point
blank, "Why isn't sake more popular?"
Crickets! Silence. And then a long "ummmmmmmmmmmmm" dribbled from my
garage door-like opened mouth. "Ummmmmmmmmm" Yes, it was a very long
"Umm." One of those "Umms" that tells the whole story before you even
utter a word. "Ummmmm the reasons are many, which do you want first?"
Then it became a game because one of the guests reads the True Sake
Newsletter, and she said, "why not give us your Top Ten reasons list?"
I prefaced the list by stating that sake sales have been increasing
each and every year for the past decade. This didn't have the effect
that I was looking for and realized that they really wanted to know
why sake isn't more noticeable or evident in the booze market. So, I
then began listing reasons, and it sounded a little something like
The TOP TEN Reasons Why Sake Isn't More Popular:
There are other factors for certain, especially when you consider that
sake or perhaps premium sake is so new to the booze scene in the US.
The sake market here is in its infancy compared to wine, beer, and
most spirits. Add to that the fact that we don't really even have a
next generation of sake drinkers yet, because again the market is so
young and it is evident that it's hard to be popular when nobody even
knows about sake.
10)|| Lazy Consumers|
Yes I blame the end users for many of sake's perceived
problems. Do you know how often people say that they can never
remember the name of a sake and that is why they don't go out
and actively search for it.
9)|| Too Few Sources |
Yes, I blame myself here. There are not enough True Sakes.
There are not enough stores, shops, and on-line stores to
allow and promote people to source and buy sake.
8)|| Stereotypical Consumers |
If I hear this one again I will ram a 1.8L sake bottle into my
brain: "I only drink sake when I get sushi!" Right there
folks! It's a killer. If you only drink sake when you eat
sushi then you aren't drinking enough sake. How about I only
drink wine when I have pasta?
7)|| Bad Sake Experience |
If you think sake is a hard alcohol, you're not buying a lot
of sake. If you think sake is just heated up jet fuel or cold
plonk then you are not buying a lot of sake. If you think that
you must "shoot" sake out of shot glasses you are not buying a
lot of sake. If you only drink sake bombs then you are not
drinking a lot of sake. And that large segment of 1st first
time sake drinkers who had a bad experience have never
6)|| Poorly Handled and Promoted Product |
The distributors of sake are a very key cog in the rice and
water machine. If they get it, then the local market gets it.
If they don't they are doing a disservice to the industry.
Poorly handled sake makes for bad sake, and if people taste
bad sake then they will not be buying a lot of sake. If the
distributors do not hit the street and preach sake to
restaurants and stores then restaurants and stores won't
promote sake. It's that simple.
5)|| Wine Shops and Bargain Stores |
Killers one and all! Sake is treated like any other old
libation in such environments. But not only that, sake is
treated like any old distilled beverage, which it is not. You
can leave a bottle of rum on the shelf for two years. You
cannot do that with sake. It takes a lot of hand selling to
sell sake. These types of stores treat sake like a second-hand
booze. They know nothing, and simply put it out to rot. Then
they sell the rot.
4)|| Nuclear Sake |
This is a relatively new chink in the armor. But it is out
there. Sake is from Japan and Japan is radioactive, ergo sake
is radioactive. We hear it every once in a while and perhaps
may hear it more down the road.
3)|| Restaurant Sake Pricing and Presentation |
My biggest sake pet peeve. Restaurants are killing the
popularity of sake by treating it differently than wine. For
starters they charge a ton for sake. Then they serve it in
small little glasses. So on a wine menu you will see a large
glass of wine (5-6oz) for $9 or a puny glass of sake (2-3oz)
for $14. Of course you'll take the wine. Restaurants need to
increase the pour and decrease the price. So what if you have
to lower the mark-up!
2)|| The Dollar To The Yen |
The buck is weak and the yen is ogre strong! It's that simple,
we have to sell sake for way too much money. Sake is far too
expensive. We used to say that sake was roughly 20% more
expensive in the States than in Japan. Now we have to say that
sake is roughly 30-35% more expensive in the States than in
Japan. And because of our three tier system in the US, the
importer, the distributor, and the retailer or restaurant all
add their mark- ups, which results in sakes that are not worth
the asking price.
1)|| No Sake Advertising |
Have you ever seen a sake ad or commercial? Nope! The number
one reason why sake is not more popular is that the industry
never advertises. There are a couple American sake companies
who are doing a great job branding, marketing and sight-selling their sakes, but the imported sake market is as quiet
as Dr. Kevorkian. (Yah he died last week!) There is zero and I
mean zero effort to promote the industry via ad campaigns, or
to sight-sell single sakes or breweries by marketing other
than at trade shows. It is so painful that the last popularity
blip on the radar for sake came from the movie "Lost in
When proofing this piece Miwa stated that we should do a Top Ten "Why
Sake Should Be More Popular!" List, so keep your eyes peeled for the
July issue when we will explore the opposite to this list.
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Sake Soldiers - A Canadian Brewing Japanese Sake In Norway - Huh?
Hah! This sake game is so funny sometimes. I have often written about
the evolution of the sake empire, from small indie brewers in Canada
and Minnesota to large-scale producers from Japan opening up
operations in Brazil and Australia. We-they-are all connected by the
liquid thread called nihonshu. All of their (our) paths are
interconnected on some level via the same passion for sake. It's been
wonderful watching these golden paths venture out in extremely
different directions. And I greatly enjoy the humility of the
"smaller" brewers who know first hand how difficult making excellent
sake is in the grand scheme of the fermentation field.
And I get really geeked when I play a small part in this market
Exhibit A: Brock Bennet
As Brock is about to mention I met him at the Mukune International
Sake Brewing Program, which I co-created with a wonderful light in the
sake world, and my brother in all things rice and water, Mr. Yasutaka
Daimon from Daimon Shuzu brewery in Osaka Prefecture. Our joint
passion for sake, and his little bit of insanity created a brewing
program for enthusiasts and sake freaks to allow them the brewer's
perspective of hands-on sake making. Two of our hand selected "sake
dudes" were in the inaugural class. Brock was there and so too was
Kjetil Jikiun, a true sake madman who happens to be an award winning
beer maker by trade-he also flies commercial airliners (Helloooo!) in
If you read the True Sake Newsletter then you know that Kjetil has
been morphing into a sake brewing "toji" a title he feels a little
uncomfortable wearing. A toji is the name of a master brewer, who has
been trained to a certain degree by regional sake guilds or by former
head brewers for a "On the job" education process. I like calling
Kjetil toji, because in a sense he was born to be one.
Last March Kjetil came to True Sake for a tasting of his entire line-
up of sakes. And let's be frank, he is a Yamahai dude and makes his
sakes that way! I was extremely stoked that he brought his sakes, as
he had been sending me samples of initial exploratory batches - test
batches that came to me in plastic water bottles Ha! - and was so
pleased to taste his evolution of goodness.
By the way this is a plug calling out to all of you who haven't been
to one of our tastings as of yet. This is how we billed Kjetil's
March 22nd - The First Ever Norwegian Sake Tasting at True Sake
Come celebrate the Internationality of sake as Norway's top beer
maker, Kjetil Jikiun, launches his brand new line of sakes. Taste
6 different Yamahai sakes that are constructed with several
different rice varietals and yeasts. As most breweries are well
over 300-400 years old, we never had the chance to taste their
first efforts, but on March 22nd you will get that chance to grow
up with a brewery of note.
When: Tuesday, March 22nd
Where: True Sake
How Much: $1
NOTE: This tasting may get quite crowded, so we would like to ask
your help in getting in and getting out of the store in an
effective manner that gives everybody a chance to taste and speak
to Kjetil briefly.
Here are the sakes that Kjetil will be pouring in his words.
Should be an amazing evening of exploration and fun!
- Junmai: pasteurized sake made with Ginpu and yeast 701
- House Yeast: unpasteurized sake made with naturally occurring yeast
- Yamahai MotoshiboriL: sake made from a full size moto.
- Nama genshu. Sake made with Ginpu and yeast 701
- YK70. Sake using Yamada Nishiki rice and yeast No 9.
And it was! Kjetil was on fire speaking to and pouring his very well
packaged sakes. The tasters had a great time exploring his use of the
Yamahai brewing technique with big acidity and impact plays. The
nigori with its especially large grains of rice was a first for many
folks. It was quite a mouth festival and the immense "toji" did his
best to introduce his style of sake making to crowd of some pretty
educated sake drinkers. In a word this was one of the most memorable
sake tastings that True Sake has ever laid down.
Fast forward to now! And working with Kjetil is Brock Bennet a true
sake friend. I am over the moon that these two daring guys are making
sake together a world away. But this piece is not about Kjetil; it's
about Brock. So herewith is Brock's story, which is about as
international as a sake story can get.
Canadian Kurabito in Norway
I am a kurabito at a Sake Brewery in Norway. I've been working at
the Nøgne Ø Sake Brewery since August 2010 and I still have to
pinch myself once in a while to make sure it's not a dream. Kjetil
Jikiun, the Head Brewer, has incorporated a Sake Microbrewery to
function side by side in the same facility as the already very
successful Beer Brewery. Nøgne Ø is in fact the first Sake Brewery
It's been a great learning experience for me. Kjetil is a real
traditionalist when it comes to Sake brewing so we use the older
Yamahai method for our Motos (the starter or Mother, if you will,
of a Sake batch). It is a much more labor intensive and demanding
process but leads to more complex and unique flavours in the final
product. Other noteworthy brewing choices are the use of Ginpu
rice from Hokkaido, a naturally occurring yeast for one of the
products (House Yeast), and another product made entirely from
the Yamahai moto.
I first met Kjetil in February 2009 when we were both interns at
the very first Mukune International Sake Brewing Program at the
Daimon Brewery in Osaka Prefecture. Yasutaka Daimon and Beau, yes
True Sake Beau, two Sake visionaries and international promoters
of all things Sake had come up with the epic concept of an
internship at a working Kura. It set my life on a new course. The
internship opened up a whole world of inspiration and knowledge
and I was able to work with and meet real Sake professionals like
Beau and Daimon-san, the Toji and the owner of the Daimon Brewery.
My initiation into Sake brewing evolved from home brewing beer in
Vancouver, Canada. Back in 2003 I decided to try home brewing Sake
as a challenge and to use up a large sack of Thai rice that had
been kicking around the house for too long. I got hooked,
seriously hooked. Thankfully my brewing skills improved and
eventually I was able to source proper Sake rice and Koji and made
half decent brews. I labored away in the wilderness with my Sake
brewing for years until one magical day when I heard about the
Mukune Internship. After the internship and a Sake related
vacation in Japan I returned to Canada to resume my life there.
However it seemed that greater forces were at work. In short order
I changed my career path and started working for Masa Shiroki, the
Artisan Sakemaker on Granville Island, in Vancouver. I continued
to stay in touch with Daimon-san and Kjetil who both provided
encouragement and technical advice in my Sake brewing. Kjetil must
have gotten tired answering all the questions I kept asking him
about Sake brewing because the next thing I knew he offered me the
opportunity to come and work for him in Norway as a kurabito. And
of course I jumped at the offer!
Since March of 2011, I have been training to brew beer at Nøgne Ø
as well. It's fascinating to work in both disciplines and see the
common threads and then contrast the huge differences. In many
respects Sake and Beer Brewing are like chalk and cheese; the
industriousness of Sake Brewing versus the industrial Beer
Brewing. Sake is hands on rice; washing, gently working apart
freshly steamed grains, hours and hours of laboriousness coaxing
koji and yeast into a harmonious synergy. Beer is pumps, piping
and valves moving ingredients en masse. Of course the lines blur
and cross and in the end they are both promoting enzymatic
reactions to convert starch to sugar to alcohol. And most
importantly the precise attention to detail and love and passion
of the brewer in both cases leads to a beautiful, flavorful brew.
Our Sake brewing at Nøgne Ø is continuing to evolve and improve.
We have received a new shipment of Ginpu rice from Hokkaido and
because we have a refrigerated brewing room we are able to make
Sake all year round. The future is bright for Kjetil's bold dream!
(my email address brock @ nogne-o.no and our website nogne-o.com
which has links to a Sake blog etc.)
Thanks Brock! I must admit that I am glad you got the gig for the
exact same reason that you think Kjetil gave you the job in the first
place. Keep up the great work and we will keep inquiring about a good
importer for your wares here in the US.
BUT wait!! The story is not over!
Please see the next section and you can taste these very unique and
wonderful Norwegian sakes while helping Japan's relief efforts.
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Sake Auction - Be A Part Of Sake History
Currently at True Sake we have three complete sets of Kjetil and
Brock's sakes, and they were left for us so that we could use them for
donation purposes for the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Effort
(www.jcccnc.org). Please read the above section in the
Newsletter to learn how special these sakes flights are, and how they
are really one of a kind.
If you are interested in purchasing one of the flights, 100% of all
proceeds go directly to JCCCNC, then please send an email to
info @ truesake.com with your highest "bid" and we will take the top
three bids. The starting bid is $50. Remember these flights feature 6
different 350ml nama sakes of various rice and brewing methods. Oh and
let us not forget that they use the famous Masumi #7, the equally
famous Kumomoto #9 yeast, and of course their very own "house kobo" to
produce some very expressive sakes that dance between 16%-19% alcohol.
STARTING BID IS $50 FOR THREE SETS OF NEW WORLD SAKES - BE A PART OF
BIDS ENDS ON JUNE 30TH AT NOON.
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Sake Trends - Got an email from TY-KU
Received a pretty interesting email in our info @ truesake.com account
from a sales rep from the TY-KU brand of sakes and spirits:
"Hi there! You wouldn't let your friends drink boxed wine. So,
why would you let them drink hot sake? The truth is that low-
quality sake is heated to mask the flavor of impurities-premium
sake should be served chilled and enjoyed much like a fine white
Making it their mission to educate consumers on Asian spirits, TY
KU Wine & Spirits is launching their third sake, TY KU Sake
Silver, premium Junmai grade sake, which represents the top 15% of
all sakes in the world.........."
Me personally - I would let my friends drink hot sake. Depends on the
company you keep I guess! I do think that with marketing programs such
as this it puts heated sakes in a bad light. Basically bad sake makes
for bad hot sake, but there are a ton of great sakes out there for
warming. I see their angle, as I had to remind people way back when
that hot sake is not representative of all sakes. People's experiences
with hot sake, usually are a love hate sort of play. Many love hot
sake, and many more hate it. Basically I have been preaching the
gospel that premium sakes should be served chilled, but at some point
the pendulum must swing back to put heated sakes in a positive light.
Maybe they should focus on the positives other than highlighting
"perceived" negatives. And it makes me wonder if they have ever tried
warming their own products. Basically Junmai sake is the warming
(Lastly, I wonder what the box wine folks have to say about this as
well? I have heard nothing but good things about current releases of
boxed wine, as the quality has gone way up.)
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Sake Education - John Gauntner's Sake Education Course In NYC
Sake Professional Course
New York City, Summer 2011 Recognized by the Sake Education Council
From Sunday, July 31 to Tuesday, August 2, 2011, I will hold the
eighth stateside version of the Sake Professional Course at Astor
Center in New York City.
The content of this intensive sake course will be identical to that of
the Sake Professional Course held each January in Japan, with the
exception of visiting sake breweries. The course is recognized by the
Sake Education Council, and those that complete it will be qualified
to take the exam for Certified Sake Specialist, which will be offered
on the evening of the last day of the course.
The course is geared toward industry professionals wishing to expand
their horizons in a thorough manner into the world of sake, and will
therefore be somewhat technical in nature, and admittedly somewhat
intense. It is likely more than the average consumer needs! But the
course is open to anyone with an interest and sake and will certainly
be enjoyable. The course lectures and tasting will begin with the
utter basics, and will thoroughly progress through and cover
everything related to sake. There will be an emphasis on empirical
experience, with plenty of exposure to a wide range of sake in the
tasting sessions throughout the three days. Each of the three days
will provide the environment for a focused, intense and concerted
The cost for the three-day class, including all materials and sake for
tasting, is US$775. Participation is limited and reservations can be
made now to secure a seat, with payment due by July 1, 2011. For a
view of the daily syllabus, please see:
Testimonials from past participants can be found there as well. For
reservations or inquiries, please send an email to info @ sake-world.com.
(Thank you John for all of the hard work that you put forth educating
the market on all things sake.)
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Sake Images - Photos From The Soul Of Sake
Please be a part of our new "Sake Images" section by contributing your
very select sake related photographs. I'm not looking for a batch of
your pictures, rather I'd like to see one or two really powerful shots
that could be in a brewery or at your own home tasting or event.
Quality over quantity here people! And then write one or two sentences
(if you want) about the picture that we can share with the other
Please send these very specific and stellar photos to
info @ truesake.com with the subject line "Sake Images"
This month's sake image comes from our very own Miwa:
"How often do you get to see an attic of a sake brewery AND find
something precious there? These photos are from my trip to
Tsukinokatsura Brewery, located in Fushimi district of Kyoto.
Loads of koshu (aged-sake) are stored in very special ceramic
jugs. Once upon a time, jugs were made in a nearby town, but this
is no longer the case. The brewery had to search for the same type
of clay, and they found it in China. (Newer jugs are produced
there.) As I surveyed the room, I was told that one of our U.S.
Presidents was given a bottle of 20-year-old koshu when he was in
town. I wonder if he still has the unopened bottle or if he drank
the whole thing."
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True Sake In The News - LA Weekly
Here's a quick little article on the current condition of sake in the
post nuclear incident era:
Japan's Sake Brewers Want You To Drink Up
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Sake Events - New Niigata Sake Tasting
June 17th & 18th: Katafune Brewery Tasting
Please join us to welcome Mr. Taketa from Katafune Brewery as this
is his first visit to the United States. In addition to two sakes
that will be on the market this summer, he is bringing two other
special sakes for you to try.
FRIDAY, 6/17 from 4:30-6:30pm
SATURDAY, 6/18 from 1:00-4:00pm
WHERE: True Sake
WHAT: Sampling of great, soon-to-be-available sake from Niigata. 4 kinds.
HOW MUCH: $1 (or more) donation to the Northern Japan Earthquake Fund by JCCCNC.
BONUS: If you donate, you will receive 10% off of any sake
purchase (but excluding sales items and the secret word sake.)
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New Store Arrivals--Summer Namas, Kimoto Limited, New Yuzu & Red Horizon
Tsukinokatsura Kohakko "Luster of Amber"
From Kyoto Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Nama. SMV:+3 / Acidity: 1.7 /Rice: Tamasakae. $36 (720ml)
(Review coming soon)
Ohyama "Big Mountain" Nama
From Yamagata Prefecture. Tokubetsu Junmai Nama. SMV: +3~+4 / Acidity: 1.4~1.5 / Rice: Dewanosato. $33 (720ml)
(Review coming soon)
Umenishiki "Gorgeous Plum" Nama
From Yamagata Prefecture. Junmai Daiginjo Nama. SMV: +3.5 / Acidity: 1.1 / Rice: Yamadanishiki. $28 (720ml)
(Review coming soon)
Jokigen Omachi "Red"
From Yamagata Prefecture. Kimoto Junmai Ginjo. SMV: +2 / Acidity: 1.7 / Yeast: Kumamoto KA.
Brewed with Omachi rice and Kumamoto yeast in traditional Kimoto
style. Pressed with "fune" method, the brew is from the favored
middle pressing part "nakadori." Last November we had two cases
in so as this time. $40 (720ml)
Tsukasabotan Yamayuzu Shibori
From Kochi Prefecture. Yuzu Sake. Perfect for summer, this
refreshing treat is made with Junmai sake and juices from the
local, pesticide-free mountain yuzu (Japanese citrus). Enjoy it
straight or on the rocks. $28 (720ml)
From Norway. Red Horizon is an ale that uses the very popular
Association #7 yeast created by our dear friends the Miyasaka
family at the Masumi brewery in Nagano. $15 (250ml)
Click here to read more.
You can review many of our sakes on our web site.
Our inventory list is here.
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Deals & Specials
These deals last long as their inventory last.
Kotsuzumi Rojohanaari "Lovely Flower"
Hyogo Prefecture. Junmai Dai Ginjo SMV: +1 Acidity: 1.6
How can one describe perfection in a bottle? This stellar Dai
Ginjo has a nose filled with white peach, apples, grapes and pear.
If we used an "Owner's Recommendation" system this sake would
carry that title. A very soft pear tonality pervades this deeply
complex sake that drinks as easy as a "wet dream." A full-bodied
sake wrapped in a delicate texture that drinks like poetry. Once
in a lifetime sake for all fans of "rice wine." WORD: Divine WINE:
Bordeaux/layered whites BEER: Ales FOODS: Think drinking
Regular price: $150 (720ml)
Gingashizuku "Divine Drops"
From Hokkaido Prefecture. Junmai Daiginjo. SMV: +3 Acidity: 1.2
This dynamite sake is made not by pressing with a machine rather
the brewers separate the sake from the lees by placing it in
canvas bags and use gravity to drip the sake out slowly. Thus
expect an amazingly silky quality to this brew with a nose full of
pear and minerals. Talk about a great first sip. A clean start is
filled with persimmon and plum flavors wrapped in a chewy and
slightly fruity package. Yet the finish is more clean than fruity
and more balanced than dry. WORD: Plum WINE: Pinot Noir/chewy
whites BEER: Sweet ales/Hefferweisen FOODS: Elegant flavors with a
subtle saltiness or natural sweetness.
Regular price: $68 (720ml)
Nishinoseki "Champion of the West"
From Oita Prefecture. Junmai. SMV: -3 Acidity: 1.5
With a nose of sweet flowers hidden amongst mushroom, nuts and
cream, the first sip of this Junmai is like tasting a sip of
buttery popcorn. Don't let the low SMV fool you as this guy drinks
more savory than sweet. Probably one of the softest sakes in the
biz, despite its deep and expansive flavors. This shimmering
Junmai is great chilled and even better warmed up. WORD: Creamy
WINE: Soft reds/creamy whites BEER: Ales FOODS: Chinese food,
fried chicken, tempura.
Regular price: $36 (720ml)
Niwa no Uguisu "Daruma"
From Fukuoka prefecture. Tokubetsu Junmai. SMV: +4 Acidity: 1.4
"Daruma" has a brilliant collection of aromas from cinnamon and
steamed vegetables to celery and grains. It has a soft smoky start
that is chewy and filled with ripe fruit tones but without the
sweetness. This is a big flavored sake that has rice, grains, and
honey licks and drinks very silky and watery smooth. A clean
delivery of flavor from front to back with a very veiled anisette
twinge. There is a lot going on in this approachable package.
WORD: Silky WINE: Vivid reds / Thick Whites BEER: Big ales / soft
stouts FOODS: Grilled oily fish, sautéd veggies, meat pasta in
mild cream sauce.
Regular price: $28 (720ml)
From Niigata Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo. SMV: +5 Acidity: 1.5
The nose on this expressive sake is filled with plum, melon,
mineral, spring onion and hint of floral tones. When was the last
time you tasted a snowball? Now add some layers of bright and
semi-fruity flavors and you are talking one very appealing sake
from snow country. Look for koji rice, sweet honey and a touch of
powdered sugar elements to jump through the palate. A larger glass
tosses more fruity faces such as apple, pear, and honeydew with a
gentle grin of bitter-rind like flavors. A fruit forward flavorful
ginjo that drinks very buoyantly. WORD: Expressive WINE:
Shiraz/Fruity whites BEER: Hefferweisen FOODS: Sushi, sashimi,
shellfish, clean fare.
Regular price: $38 (720ml)
Takenotsuyu Junmai "Bamboo Tears"
From Yamagata Prefecture. Junmai. SMV: +2 Acidity: 1.4
The nose on this superb Junmai is filled with cherry, plums, dried
fruit and saw dust aromas. Talk about a soft sake. This brilliant
brew is both clean and light and incredibly silky with layers of
plump flavors. Yet flavorful is an understatement as hints of
richness conceal a mild sweetness that ends in a semi-dry finish.
An elegant sake that drinks way too easy, and represents another
great example of a Yamagata-style sake that screams "Drink me!"
WORD: Easy WINE: Pinot Noir/Chewy whites BEER: Light ales FOODS:
Salty and savory fare, grilled everything, and sushi surprises.
Regular price: $26 (720ml)
Wakaebisu Kinpaku "Gold Flake"
From Mie Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Kinpaku. SMV: +3 Acidity: 1.4
Welcome to the world of "celebration" sake! This brew has gold
flakes throughout, but by no means is the flavor a novelty. This
is an excellent sake (would they put gold in a crappy product?)
with mineral, cherry, and unripe melon aromas. What an elegantly
gentle and drinkable Ginjo, with hints of plums and cherries in a
silky softness that has a quiet vanilla departure. Super clean and
super fun this "gift" sake will not disappoint, but you need not
"celebrate" to enjoy a fantastic brew. WORD: Gold WINE: Soft
reds/gentle whites BEER: Creamy ales FOODS: Party cuisine.
Regular price: $36 (720ml)
From Yamagata Prefecture. Plum sake.
Try this bright and not-too-sweet umeshu straight or on the rocks.
Regular price: $37 (720ml)
Juyondai Hiden Tamagaeshi Junmai Ginjo
If you would like to pre-order Juyondai Hiden Tamagaeshi Junmai
Ginjo ($120/720ml), please call us at (415) 588-7148. We might be
able to get six bottles.
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True Sake Selects - Team True Sake Select Monthly Brews of Note
Seikyo Junmai Takehara
From Hiroshima prefecture. SMV: -1 / Acidity: 1.5 / Yeast: Association #10.
Filled with a rich rice tone, this gentle Junmai is a new arrival
from Nakao brewery in the city of Takehara. The sake offers
aromatic layers of grain, dairy, apple and dry cherry with a soft
texture. (You may think the sake is brewed with soft water, but it
is indeed brewed with semi-hard water.) A touch of favorable
sweet-bitterness and umami (yummy savory tone) is quietly present
in the taste, and a subtle crisp edge gives a sense of dry finish.
This brew becomes even more round after being open for a few days.
Food-wise, grilled or smoked fair will do well.
The brewery is known as the birthplace of apple yeast, which is
used to brew their "Maboroshi" (Junmai Daiginjo). They are also the
inventor of "high temperature saccarification method (ko-on toka
moto/shubo), which was developed to maximize the performance of the
apple yeast. (If you are interested in their Junmai Daiginjo, let
From Yamagata Prefecture. Daiginjo Muroka Namazume. SMV:+3 / Acidity: 1.2.
Light & smooth tone. This medium dry daiginjo has a clear and
clean finish. Great for the summer season.
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True Monthly Sake Club
This monthly sake club is available for those who are in California (and age 21 or over). True Sake Club can be a great gift subscription to your friend and family as well.
We try our best to send you something tasty, new, interesting and/or
exclusive along with our tasting notes. And we hope to grow our
offerings in near future.
- Monthly: 1 bottle
- Sake: 720ml Honjozo, Junmai, or Junmai Ginjo/Ginjo
- Price: Up to $30 + S&H + Tax
- Monthly: 2 bottles
- Sake: Combination of 720ml Honjozo, Junmai, Junmai Ginjo/Ginjo, or Junmai Daiginjo/Daiginjo
- Price: Up to $65 + S&H + Tax
- Selected sake is/are offered at a discounted price. Therefore, the order will not count toward the Frequent Buyer Program.
- Based on a selection, the price may differ slightly from month to month.
- Shipping & Handling (S&H) will be calculated based on the distance and the weight.
- UPS Ground service will be used for shipping. They will ask for an adult signature upon delivery.
- No return policy, but if your sake is missing or broken, please contact us immediately for a replacement.
We try to keep things simple. Your feedback is welcome.
- Shipping: 3rd Monday (or Tuesday if Monday is a holiday)
- Start Anytime: Email us at sakeclub @ truesake.com OR call us at (415) 355-955
- Switch Anytime: Tell us by the 1st Monday
- Cancel Anytime: Tell us by the 1st Monday
Please email the following information to
sakeclub @ truesake.com.
Upon receiving your request, we will contact you for your payment
- Your name as it appears on your credit card
- Shipping address
- Company name if shipping address is a business
- Billing address if it differs from the shipping address
- Your phone number
- Your email
- Your choice of: True Try or True Explore
If you would like to give this as a gift subscription, please specify:
- Length: 3 months or 6 months
- Recipient's name
- Recipient's address
- Recipient's phone number
Email: sakeclub @ truesake.com
Phone: (415) 355-9555
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This is for CA residents. (We will work harder to resume out-of-state shipping.)
3 bottles: Shipping three 720ml bottles is a new choice.
1.8L bottle: We are resuming shipping of single 1.8L bottle. (2-bottle
shipping is coming soon. Unfortunately the box is Styrofoam.)
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"Ask Beau" - "Is anyone planning an article that will explain how to choose a 'safe' sake in the future?"
Cecil K - in Kansas wrote the following:
"I read every word of your newsletter, intent on figuring out if
there is any chance that future sake will be contaminated from the
nuclear disaster. I guess it's, especially sitting in the middle
of Kansas, hard to understand which sake's will be effected and
what controls will be in place so that we can be absolutely sure
that sake will be safe to drink (talking about sake that is being
made in the future).
Let me preface this reply by stating and re-stating the obvious - the
Japanese are the most hypersensitive, hyperactively clean freak people
in the world. There is no culture on this ball of mud and water that
takes cleanliness and purity to a higher degree than the Japanese. If
there is a "problem" or hint of a problem having to do with food or
drink they run for the hills. Do you remember when one cow was
discovered with mad cow disease in the US? (It was sourced from Canada
and there was only one.) Basically within the hour they banned all
beef from the US for almost two years. And that response was not
unusual. It's typical. They simply do not mess around when it comes to
But we have entered into a new realm of "contamination." And this is
very uncharted waters for the Japanese and most of the rest of the
world. The Russians know first hand the devastation and longevity of a
post nuclear event. And Cherynoble is a perfect case study of what
happens in the long run. Using the Russian example that area in Japan
will not be "planted" for years to come. So at the very least there
will be no locally grown rice that could be contaminated. But what
about the ground water? This is where the Japanese lose control of the
elements in a manner of speaking. Water, as you know, travels in
Japan. I read somewhere that of all island nations Japan has the most
amount of movement of water both above ground and beneath the surface
because of its volcanic roots. And there is absolutely no question
that water in that immediate area is contaminated. The question
remains, how far and where did this infected water travel."
So Cecil, there are ways of production going forward that will greatly
reduce the possibility that sake will be contaminated. First, locally
grown rice and local water will not be used in that very acute region.
Many breweries that were deeply affected have vowed to return to
production, but this may take longer than what they ever imagined. I
suspect that if they try to brew it will be with all raw materials
from someplace other than their area. Your chance of drinking
contaminated sake from the impacted areas is slim to none for the
above said reasons. But what about sakes from the rest of Japan?
Radiation is an easily detected element. And they have been using the
latest and best technology to detect radiation in food and drink both
in Japan and in the US. All food and beverages that leave Japan are
tested in Japan. Then they are re-tested in the arrival nations. One
of my distributors told me that they received food products from Japan
and it was tested for radiation at the arrival port. The products were
trucked to their warehouse, and an unannounced visit by the FDA
produced yet another exam. Basically there is a very heightened sense
of awareness out there and both the Japanese and the Americans are
erring on the side of caution.
Speaking directly to your question about articles that have been or
will be written about selecting safe sake in the future I have not
seen one nor do I envision one being written. If a sake is
contaminated it will not be on store shelves. For those who are overly
concerned I do know that you can purchase radiation detecting
equipment. I know of two exporting/importing companies that have
purchased their own equipment for this very reason. I will leave you
with a final thought. There is more of a chance that you will be
exposed to radiation at or near a hospital or by using your cell phone
than by purchasing sake from Japan. Will we be able to say this in the
future? I believe so.
Please send your sake specific questions to
askbeau2 @ truesake.com. (This
address is not for general questions and I only review the questions
once per month. All other correspondence should use
info @ truesake.com.)
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The SECRET WORD
Ah, at last we have reached the end of this Newsletter and that of
course means that we have come to the now-famous SECRET WORD. To those
who are new the SECRET WORD is a chance for you to try a sake of note
for half of that sake's original price. Just for reading this
Newsletter. It is our way of saying thank you for trying to understand
the wonders of sake.
Please remember the rules: only one bottle per reader, and don't tell
your buddy at the moment if he/she isn't a Newsletter subscriber,
always use a hushed or secret agent voice when saying the SECRET WORD,
and lastly for those who have their sakes shipped we can only include
the SECRET WORD sake in a four-pack purchase - meaning you must buy
three other sakes.
This month we are featuring Harushika Umakuchi Yondan Junmai from Nara
Prefecture. The rich and tad sweet nature of this brew comes from the
extra addition of koji and steamed rice to "moto" (fermenting batch).
The sake will normally sell for $28, but for you sake jockeys we will
part with this 720ml for $15!
And the SECRET WORD is...check your email inbox -
We only give out the
SECRET WORD in the mailed Newsletter! So
sign up for the Newsletter!
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Thank you for reading!
How much sake does Ozeki make for their incredibly popular One Cup
sakes? Three times as much as the entire yearly output of sake from
Niigata prefecture as a whole. That's a lot of sake!
560 Hayes St., San Francisco, CA 94102
info @ truesake.com
Sake - A Modern Guide