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Sake Expressions – Dassai Blue Is Ready For You!

Sake Expressions – Dassai Blue Is Ready For You!

(Using my best carnival voice) “Hurry Hurry, Step Right Up and Get Your Dassai Blue – Dassai Blue – Get your Dassai Blue Here – Right Here.” Last month we held the first Dassai Blue tasting on the West coast, but we didn’t have any product to sell to the tasters. Now we do!

Almost everybody in the world has heard of the ultra popular sake brewery empire in Yamaguchi Prefecture Japan called Dassai (Otter Festival). It literally is the top selling Junmai Daiginjo series in the entire world, and really highlighted the milling trend as they made their famous 45% - 39% - and 23% household words. And yes, they changed the course of buying Yamadanishiki brewing rice in Japan (considered to be the best brewing rice in the business). The brewery uses so much Yamadanishiki that they created a national competition to grow and sell the best to Dassai. The farmers with the best Yamadanishiki win the competition and Dassai buys it all, usually paying above market price. All crazy successes for the win! The farmers win, the brewery wins, and the consumers win.

But wait there’s more! Say hello to Dassai Blue made right here in the good ol’ US of A in Hyde Park, New York. And now you can be the first to buy these specially crafted sakes that are made with both US and Japanese grown Yamadanishiki.

Dassai Blue 23 and Dassai Blue 50 are made with Yamadanishiki from Japan, and Dassai 35 is made with Yamadanishiki from Arkansas. They use their own proprietary yeast from Japan, but their water is of course made locally in New York. (I won’t mention that they spent $1,000,000 on a water filtration machine, because it is the only real terroir with these brews for now! Their goal is to grow all of their brewing rice in the US.)

On a personal note, I am extremely thrilled about the entire Dassai Blue operation and its fingerprint on the history of the international sake market. Firstly, Dassai has done so much for the entire sake world, and it is both celebrated and envied. I think the story itself, which started in 1984, is one of success and excellence in sake, and an expression that has seen no equal since. Congrats to the entire Sakurai family and the Dassai team. Well done! And my odyssey with Dassai started in 2003 when I tasted the 23 in Tokyo and was pretty much blown away with the whole Ultra milling for the masses approach. In fact, I met Hiroshi Sakura in 2004 at True Sake when he visited the store even before Dassai was exported to the US. Herewith is my letter to Hiroshi-san after the visit:


June 20, 2004, San Francisco 
Mr. Hiroshi Sakurai
2167-4 Osogoe, Shuto-cho
Kuga-gun Yamaguchi, J A P A N  

Thank you very much for visiting my store TRUE SAKE in San Francisco last week.

I greatly appreciate when we receive visitors from kura in Japan, and I enjoyed answering your questions.

Please inform me when Dassai will be ready for export.  Perhaps you could advise Mutual Trading Co. to give me a call when it arrives, and I will gladly and proudly sell this sake to my customers.  As I mentioned to you my wife and I love otters, both sea and river otters, and the name alone makes me thirsty for your amazing nihonshu milled to 23%.

When I was in Japan in January I tried your Dassai JDG with a SMV: +3 and Acidity: 1.5.  The nose was very soft with hints of flower petals and clover honey. The flavor was big and clean with lots of pear and apple tones and a nice light and dry finish.  It was balanced and excellent.  Does this sake use kobo Association #9 or #10?

Hopefully you have concluded from your visit to my store that I am deadly serious about nihonshu.  It is my god and my store is my church for those wanting to learn more about this amazing beverage.

I think the education process is the most important step for marketing sake correctly here in the U.S.  And I strive to educate my customers as well as I can, and would be honored to let them try your sake.

Thank you again for the visit, and if it is not too much to ask, I was wondering if you have postcards and videos about your brewery?  I would gladly show them in my store.  I also like aprons very much that I can wear in the store whilst working.

All of my best,
Beau Timken
In the big picture Dassai Blue is almost full-circle for True Sake and Dassai both. We are honored to sell these products, we are honored to be their partners, but most of all we are honored to sell Dassai sake to you the greatest customers in the history of sake.
Dassai Blue Type 23
From Hyde Park, New York. Junmai Daiginjo. SMV: N/A Acidity: N/A
The nose on this American made Dassai is a slick collection of melon, strawberry, rock sugar, orange, mango, blueberry, fennel, fresh grape, and pineapple aromas. Say hello to the “other Dassai 23” that was conceived in Japan, but born in the US. Using Yamadaniski brewing rice from Japan that is milled to 23%, this Ultra Daiginjo drinks smooth, round, silky, and clean with a sublime elegance and an off-dry finish. In a word this is the most expensive “craft” sake made in the US and perhaps the reward is in the flavor field that is immense and very intriguing. Look for grape, mango, melon, Fuji apple, finger lime, strawberry, fig, and powdered sugar flavors that slide across the palate with a touch of shibumi and minerally finish. With a 14% ABV and pasteurized only once this special sake excels in a white wine glass with a gentle chill. WORD: Elegant WINE: Velvety Reds/Smooth Whites BEER: Creamy ales FOODS: Sushi, sashimi, caviar, lobster, crab, oysters, foie gras, and other Champagne fare. 

Dassai Blue Type 35
From Hyde Park, New York. Junmai Daiginjo. SMV: N/A Acidity: N/A
The nose on this American made Dassai is a cool collection of nectarine, peach, melon, jasmine, honey, sesame, and creamy aromas. This Dassai 35 is made with Yamadanishiki brewing rice that comes from Arkansas, and is perhaps the most terroir-driven Junmai Daiginjo in this collection. Soft, elegant, round, firm, and with a little tingle and spritz this off-dry and mid-body premium sake drinks with a little tannin-like dryness and a nice whisper finish. Look for peach, muskmelon, persimmon, Asian pear, sugar cane, and lemon lime flavors with some salinity and minerality in the finish. Red wine drinkers take note of Blue 35, and enjoy the texture and wine-like nature of this excellent craft sake that works very well in a white wine glass. WORD: Clean WINE: Tannin-Reds/Crisp Whites BEER: Crisp Ales FOODS: Sushi, sashimi, crab, grilled fish and chicken, pasta, and olive based fare. 

Dassai Blue Type 50
From Hyde Park, New York. Junmai Daiginjo. SMV: N/A Acidity: N/A
The nose on this American made Dassai is a vast collection of pear, pineapple, mango, honey, berry, rock sugar, and Hawaiian sweet bread aromas. Say hello to a very approachable and drinkable prototypical Junmai Daiginjo that is great for beginners and sake aficionados alike. Made with Yamadanishiki brewing rice from Japan milled to 50% and with an ABV of 14%, this brew is soft, smooth, round, silky, and full-bodied with luscious feelings and an abundant flavor field that is fresh and fun. Pasteurized only once; look for lively flavors like lemon lime, pineapple, Ramune, berries and cream, lychee, and crème brulee that glide through the palate on a plump and chewy flow with the most umami of the American series. Serve chilled in a white wine glass and enjoy a terrific sake at an amazing price point. WORD: Voluptuous WINE: Fat Reds/Plump Whites BEER: Creamy Ales FOODS: Sushi, sashimi, lobster, shrimp, crab, oysters, grilled fish, chicken, and meats.  
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