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Sake Exclusives – Get Your Bo Before It’s Gone

The sake world works in mysterious ways, but you already knew that! We are continually on the hunt for really cool brews and breweries for you great people. That is one of the strengths of True Sake. We use our contacts and connections to try to get you into sakes that most don’t have access to. And yes, it’s cool for us too! We love good sake, good stories and good opportunities. That is why the story of Bo spoke to us and has become a part of our True Sake history.

Sake Exclusives – Get Your Bo Before It’s Gone A

As you know, there is a very cool brewery in Tochigi Prefecture called Tonoike Shuzu. I have written about my time at the brewery in past newsletters and in the last newsletter I wrote about how that owner of the brewery wanted to honor me by changing the name of his Bo brand of sake to Beau! You also read how I said “Hell no, don’t do that!” (Even though I was greatly honored.)


The story of Tonoike and their brands Bo and Sanran is a great one. It involves a brewery owner who is awesome, a friend who said let’s export your sake to the US, another friend who said he could help, and an importer who eventually registered his two lines of sake in the US. It also is the story of a brewery owner who took a chance and came to Sake Day two years ago to test his product on the US market. His wares did so well that he came back the next Sake Day and sold his brews on the floor, because his table was the talk of Sake Day.


So fast-forward to this year when our friends at EHH imports out of Chico took on the Tonoike line of sakes. The brews were registered, and now re-registered to reflect the Bo name and not the Beau name. (Thank God!) And all is well right? Actually no. The importer has chosen to focus on one or two of the 6 offerings that we currently have now in store. What the heck does this mean? It means that you might not be able to try several of the brews in the near future unless something is worked out on the importing front. Damn! I know.


And the silver lining? We have a case and a half left of each brew in the entire line of Tonoike sakes that are in the US for the first time. And? And that means that you need to act quickly if you want to try some of the best sakes made in Japan. That is not an over-statement. The Bo and Sanran lines are huge and blowing up at the best sake bars in Japan. The brews are gaining an almost cult-like standing in the sake world, not to mention that they are also Gold medal winners at the IWC. Yup!


Fantastic sakes with a killer style that appeal to all types of sake drinkers! They are also slightly wine-like which is appealing to those looking to jump silos.


What you will notice with the following reviews of Tonoike’s sakes is that we have the SMV and Acidity for the Sanran line, but not the Bo line. So I reached out to Shig-san and asked why don’t we have the info and could he provide?

Sake Exclusives – Get Your Bo Before It’s Gone B

His reply was pretty awesome and this is what he said:


Hi Beau,

We don't include details on the label as we don't want our customers to have a biased view.
We want our customers to have an open mind and think outside the box.


But just for you here is our definition of SanRan and Bo concepts:


Sanran means to shine brilliantly.
We hope people who drink Sanran will have a beautiful and shiny life!
“Sanran” means to shine with brilliance – this reflects our hopes that Sanran will bring brilliance and bounty to the lives of those who drink the sake.


BO means to look far into the distance. 
We established BO with the passion of creating an innovative sake range - a new trendsetter for the future of the sake industry.

“Bo” indicates the act of standing on one’s tiptoes and looking far out into the distance. Bo is our attempt to craft a next-gen sake brand that challenges traditional flavors and reexamines what it means to enjoy sake.


I totally love this response. He did give me the specific details and they are actually quite shocking, but you can deduce for yourself when you taste these amazing brews. I will honor his code of letting the consumers discover their own meaning.


So if you can’t tell by now… and please don’t make me say it, but these brews would make a fantastic gift for your sake buddies. True that! Herewith are my reviews for the 6 different Tonoike sakes that are here for a limited time and are very exclusive to True Sake. I am super impressed with the balance and flavors of the entire line-up. There is no weak link! And I will say it again, they will be gone soon so you better get your rear in gear or I may just buy the entire lot and be a happy camper.


Tonoike “Sanran” 
From Tochigi Prefecture. Ginjo. 
SMV: +1.4 Acidity: 1.7
The nose on this IWC Gold Medal winning Ginjo is a fun collection of citrus, tropical, and cream soda aromas. This world class Ginjo is round, bright, juicy, clean and subtly spritzy. It is layered, expressive and very lively with plenty of citrus and creamy elements. Look for tangerine, cherry, and orange flavors that bounce on a great acidity play that leaves this sake drinking fresh, crisp and bright. This is a very good standard for today’s bombastic Ginjo style sakes that jump out of the glass and excite the senses. WORD: Citrus WINE: Crisp Reds/Bright Whites BEER: Crisp Ales FOODS: Light clean sushi sashimi, salads, steamed fish and chicken. $37/720ml


Tonoike “Sanran” 
From Tochigi Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo. 
SMV: -2.5 Acidity: 1.3
The nose on this Junmai Ginjo is a cool collection of melon, blueberry, blackberry, banana, and strawberry aromas. Talk about an “electric’ sake that is bright and very flavorful and not at all chunky or bulky. It is not heavy, but it is hefty in an amazing array of flavors such as cherry, strawberry, berries, and citrus. Really? All of those flavors with just rice and water? You bet! And also take note of an exciting fluid that is tingly, lively and has a nice little pop of freshness. This is the bright side of Junmai Ginjo sake with lemon licks and a nice welcoming crispness. The strength rests in its liveliness, lightness, and brightness. WORD: Bright WINE: Shiraz/Crisp Whites BEER: Crisp Ales FOODS: Shellfish, oysters, grilled white fish, salads. $44/720ml


Tonoike “Sanran” 
From Tochigi Prefecture. Junmai Daiginjo. 
SMV: +/- 0 Acidity: 1.4
The nose on this very fruity Junmai Daiginjo is a welcoming collection of melon, berry, Asian apple pear, koji rice, and honeysuckle aromas. Say hello to fermented rice and water perfection! Why? Because this is one of those brews that makes you scratch your head and wonder how rice and water can taste like white grape, mango, pear candy, mango, and grapefruit flavors. How? Who knows, but who cares when a sake is crisp, bright, with lots of tingle, and packs a fruity punch. This is a fleshy Daiginjo that drinks light in weight but full in flavor and as the fluid warms in the glass say hello to a great tangerine departure. Lively and very impressive this sake is a great example of new style Junmai Daiginjo that drink very bright and fun. WORD: Fruity WINE: Zesty Reds/Bright Whites BEER: Fruity Ales FOODS: Sushi, sashimi, grilled fish and chicken, tofu, and light noodles. $76/720ml

Sake Exclusives – Get Your Bo Before It’s Gone C

Tonoike (Bo:) 
From Tochigi Prefecture. Tokubetsu Junmai. 
SMV: N/A Acidity: N/A
The nose on this very unique Junmai sake is vast collection of cream, nougat, cocoa, and steamed rice dessert aromas. Behold an eye-opening new world Junmai sake that is all things rich, but also all things bright and light. How do they do that? Ricey, zesty, light-bodied with a full-body sprightliness, creamy, and very layered. Huh? So much action in the glass this brew is one to really get crazy with. There are hints of cocoa, cinnamon and ripe persimmon with a vein of creaminess that is very buoyant in the glass. A full-bodied sake, but made to be light and lively, which is both satisfying and refreshing. Basically this Junmai takes rice to a new altitude and that view is amazing. WORD:Bright-Rich WINE: Tight reds/Zesty whites BEER: Crisp Ales FOODS: Can handle full-bodied fare with ease and can go light as well. $31/720ml


Tonoike (Bo:) 
From Tochigi Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo. 
SMV: N/A Acidity: N/A
The nose on this sake from a brewery that sells 1/3 of their sake on premises at their sake brewery tasting bar is a nice collection of tangerine, vanilla, steamed rice, and creamy aromas. A super flavorful Junmai Ginjo with hints of apricot, melon, and grapefruit flavors on a crisp, light, and frisky flow that pops in the palate. It is bright, layered, and very fresh in nature with peek-a-boo mineral element that is almost flinty. Talk about a lot of action with a great finish! There is an elegance to this brew that speaks to wine lovers looking for that cross-over sake. WORD: Bright WINE: Zesty reds/Crisp whites BEER:Crisp Ales FOODS: fish, shellfish, oysters, grilled chicken. $42/720ml


Tonoike (Bo:) 
From Tochigi Prefecture. Junmai Daiginjo. 
SMV: N/A Acidity: N/A
The nose on this sake that is made with Omachi rice milled to 50% is a bright collection of mango, berry, melon, and sweet rice aromas. Welcome to New World Sakes that bridge the gap between the sake and the wine world. This sake is built to be bright and expressive in the glass and is very wine-like. Fat and fruity, it drinks zesty, crisp, and with great expression. It has a very fresh feel that is tingly and vibrant and then you notice all of the flavors. Look for fruit flavors such as red apple, mango, pear, and bright berry elements that explode in the palate. There is a misty hue to this fluid and that almost makes you feel the flavors popping and bubbling around in the glass. WORD: Lively WINE: Crisp Reds/Zesty Whites BEER: Crisp ales. FOODS: Fresh flavors, salads, cheese plates, tofu, sashimi. $47/720ml


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