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Sake Exclusives – Miroku The Best Drinking Sake In America!

I’m not going to toot my own horn. I’m not going to sing my own praise. And I am certainly not going to give myself a pat on my own back! Heck no! I’d never do that. But, I will throw a little sunshine my way for discovering sakes in Japan that I thought would do very well in the US. In fact, I may have to put a little sunscreen on because it’s not going to be a ray or two! We have had a great track record finding brews that scream “tasty” and “my favorite” including Cowboy Yamahai, Takenotsuyu “Silent Snow,” Urakasumi Honjozo Genshu, Narutotai Ginjo Genshu in the can, and several others. And guess what? We’ve done it again! In a big way!

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I will go out on a limb and say that Miroku from Kondo Shuzo in Niigata is the best drinking sake available in the US today. There I said it! But do I mean it? Absolutely! And we have done another one of those “Exclusives” that I like and loathe. I guess being exclusive is good for business and makes business sense. But I also believe in the producers making money and more people drinking their sake, and so it would be better to have the sake available everywhere. Hmmmmm!

I won’t mention the sake name, but I once identified and organized a sake to get exported to the US and my Importer/Distributors said that I would get 1 year “Exclusive” status on that sake if I purchased 15 cases in advance. So I did, because I believe in the sake, but was shocked and felt cheated when said importers starting selling the sake on the East Coast and the Mid-West immediately when it reached the US. That is baloney, and that is why I feel weird about “Exclusives.”

Nevertheless, this sake is the bomb! And I wrote a small piece for this brew for a few friends of mine, who wanted to know more about this sake that I gave to them as gifts last holiday season. So with each bottle of Miroku that I gave them I presented them with this description:

The sake industry has had a hard time developing an identity of sorts. It’s sake first and foremost, but many feel that the sake industry should be aligned with the wine industry. Sake is respected in Japan, but it is not as honored as it was historically. So many brewers look to the wine world to express their sakes. Also many brewers love other western cultures and their cuisines and wines! One such brewery is Kondo Shuzo from Niigata Prefecture.

Kondo-san basically loves French cuisine, and wanted to create a sake that acted like French wine. He said, “I made this lower alcohol sake (14%) with a personality that goes well with French foods like game, wild meats, and especially deer.” Check out the deer on the label on the bottle, which looks very much like a 750ml wine bottle no? So those are your marching orders for this incredibly unique Junmai Daiginjo that drinks rich and full. Take it to your favorite French restaurant. And let the special rice varietal known as Koshitanrei speak the language of French grapes.

The second unique aspect of this incredible sake is that it celebrates sake retailers in Japan. No, not all sake retailers, just the 60 retailers that Kondo-san feels are worthy of this brew. In the fall he invites these retailers to come to his brewery and hand pick the rice. Then he allots 6-12 bottles per retailer and that is it! It doesn’t leave Niigata prefecture, but one day he wants to see it in France. So basically that’s less then 1,000 bottles, and people try to kill to taste this mystical sake that was featured in the super popular Japanese cuisine comic known as “Oishinbo” twenty years ago.

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I asked Kondo-san why he does it, and his reply was that he makes sake for his customers and he honors the customers who honor sake. As a sake retailer I greatly appreciate both stories here, but I think sake should align with nothing! The Wine of Japan is no wine at all! But, I am no snob and feel that sake must express itself, and perhaps one day the French will be drinking rice and water with their venison! Please have fun with this very storied sake that has been milled to 40% with an SMV of +3 and a lower acidity of 1.2. 

So there you have it! True Sake is “Exclusively” carrying one of the most sought after sakes in Japan, and it came to the US before France. Thank you very much! If you are a foodie this sake is for you! If you are a sake nut this sake is for you! If you are a wine drinker and you want to taste a sake that has a ton of wine similarities then this sake is for you! If you think you know sake then this sake is for you! And if you love sake and the expressions found in rice and water then this sake is for you!

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