Sake Karma – A Last Second Invite Turns Into a Long Term Relationship
On occasion we get random (but very friendly) folks who come into the store with bottles of sake made by “their friends” in Japan, and present them to us for our drinking pleasure. How cool is that? I think it’s awesome, because the gift of sake is the greatest gift of all. And secondly, we know what a pain it is to bring sake via planes and airports etc. So we are always grateful as hell, and always very keen to taste the brews that made the unusual trip.
In August of this year a man frantically came into the store and said, “Where’s the owner?” “I need to see the owner.” And guess what? The “owner” was not there! This irked the man who then foisted two bottles of sake onto Mei. He said, “Here, give these to the owner, they are made by my friend in Tochigi Prefecture and the name on one of the sake is Bo.” I think that they knew my name and the Bo part was the “catch”! So Mei politely took the brews and said, “Some angry guy left you some sakes.” Ha! We would find out later he wasn’t an angry guy, just in a hurry!
As I always do, I wrote a long thank you email to the gentleman who left the sakes. I had not tasted them yet, and quite honestly I didn’t notice the “Bo” thing yet either. Since Sake Day was on my mind I decided to invite the man and his sake brewery owning friend to come and take a table at Sake Day knowing full well that it was less than two months away and at the actual start of brewing season. I expected the big no! But alas the man said that he would ask his friend. And guess what? They said that they would come! No way!
We had absolutely no idea who these guys were and what sort of sake they made, but they had balls for just deciding to up and come to Sake Day 2017. They said that they would ship us their sake and then fly to join us in SF. How cool is that? They asked to meet us at the store before Sake Day as they were coming a couple of days early. In anticipation of their arrival I decided that the time was right to taste their brew, and so I tried the Bo Junmai Ginjo. Wow! I was blown away and thought gosh darn this is some good sake, and I cannot wait to taste more.
On September 29th – two days before Sake Day – Mr. Tack Wai from CT Premium Foods out of Singapore introduced me to Mr. Shigeki Tonoike from the sake brewery called Tonoike Shuzouten from Tochigi Prefecture. I liked both men immediately. I could tell that “Tono” had a pure and happy sake soul, and he was so proud to tell me about Bo sake. I told the guys to get some sleep because Sake Day was near at hand and they would need their energy! Lo and behold I was right because their sake table at Sake Day was one of the most popular stations.
I cannot tell you how many of the Sake Day attendees came up to me and said that they loved that sake station from Tochigi with the red banner. This made me extremely proud and I felt the sake gods smiling down on me. The boys poured their Bo Junmai Ginjo and three other lines plus the Bo Junmai that had just won the “National Kan Sake Award” for one of the best warming sakes in Japan. In return for their participation I introduced them to two different importers who may make good partners for future deals down the road. The bottom line is that we need Tonoike sake in the US and this special little event may have sealed the deal!
I’ll keep you posted!