The Beau-Zone Layer – Kudoki Jozu "The Pick Up Artist"
Some of my favorite sake awards that I have earned in almost a quarter century of preaching the sake gospel were not awards at all. Rather, they were experiences shared with me by people who I greatly admire. Shunji Imai is a badass, and he was also known for having one of the cleanest, most pristine sake brewing facilities in Japan. Many owners of other breweries would venture to Yamagata to tour his kura to learn how to operate a tidy brewery. He also was one of the first sake makers to let me go shirtless while working in their brewery’s koji room. What could be worse than a hairy gaijin in the cleanest part of the cleanest sake brewery? Nothing! But that didn’t matter to Shunji, who now lets his son Toshi “Jr.” run the brewery, who saw that I was totally passionate about learning and communicating sake. This stalwart Junmai Ginjo is all things Yamagata, and it is absolutely one of the most flavorful sakes in Japan. This is a reminder to try the Pick-Up Artist for the first time or for the 100th time, because each time is the best time.