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Sake Spotlight - Timothy Sullivan Goes Nigori!

Ahhh the Internet. We take this beast so much for granted that at times we forget the absolute power that we have at our meaty little finger tips. And I say power in the most instantaneous of ways, as in instant info on anything, including our very dear friend sake. Our special Sake Spotlight guest this month came to me electronically and I have yet to meet him in a 3rd dimensional sense.

Timothy (Tim) Sullivan is a fellow sake soul, and a guy who also heeded the sake sirens call and didn't crash his ship on the rocky shore. He too started a pilgrimage to gather a sense of the "it" that brings so many of us to the alter of sake. What is it that makes rice and water taste so? What is it that makes sake so "living?" Tim has taken his passion and sake soul search to the Blogosphere, and I asked him a while back if he would like to Spotlight one of his "special brews." Herewith is his review of a Nigori from Gifu Prefecture that is extremely popular in the Nigori universe - Shirakawago Sansanigori. I also asked him to speak about his "space" and the NYC sake scene:

Shirakawago SansanigoriI remember one night when I was making my first tentative steps into learning about the world of sake, I was eating at a japanese restaurant here in New York and I saw an attractive young couple at the next table order this exotic-looking cloudy sake poured from a beautiful blue bottle. I decided immediately that they must be super- cool sake experts who knew enough to order and enjoy such a funky and unusual sake.Of course, I later learned that what I saw that night was a cloudy "nigori" sake or specifically Shirakawago Sansanigori ("Bamboo Leaf", Gifu Prefecture, SMV +1, Acidity 1.5, Seimaibuai 60%, Alcohol 15.3%). After several tastings, I've come to appreciate the specific charms of this particular Junmai Ginjo Nigori.First, I love the texture and consistency. In the extremes, some nigoris are a chunky soup while others are thin with just a whisper of texture. I think Sasanigori strikes a good balance and hits your palate with it's pleasing smooth 'n' creamy mouthfeel without being too heavy. Shirakawago's creamy texture is a perfect counterpoint to foods with some spice and I especially recommend it to anyone who enjoy a little extra wasabi with their sushi.


Secondly, I'm interested in the connection with the sake on my table and the place it was created. In this case, the small village of Shirakawa in Gifu prefecture was designated as a World Heritage Site in December of 1995 and is most identified with the preservation efforts of their beautiful hand-built thatched roof houses, each one hundreds of years old. If you look at the Shirakawago Sansanigori label, you can see one of these houses pictured. For centuries, up until filtration technology was perfected, all sake was nigori sake. I find it fitting to select a nigori from a place that has such a strong connection to the past and where things are really done the old fashioned way.

So, if you are ready to step up and give nigori a try, head on over to True Sake and get yourself a bottle of Shirakawago Sansanigori. With this brew in hand, you can't help but have that super-cool sake-expert feeling.

I started my blog,, to record my experiences learning about all things Sake in New York City. To my surprise, I found an abundance of sake resources, a teeming underground of sake fanatics and many shops, bars and restaurants to explore. If you're headed to New York City, here are my tips for turning your vacation weekend in to a "Sake and the City" weekend:

My recommendation for a japanese restaurant is a little gem called Tomoe Sushi (172 Thompson St.; 866-625-2995) There is often a line to get in, but it's so worth it. Shirakawago Sansanigori is on the sake menu along with our friend Hakkaisan. After dinner, head over to Sake Bar Decibel ( 240 E 9th St.; 212-979-2733 ). It's down a flight of stairs and has an expansive sake menu and some yummy japanese snacks including a great mochi ice cream sampler. yum!

If you must go to only one sake place in New York, make it Sakagura (211 East 43rd Street, B1; 212-953-7253) This is the destination for sake lovers in New York. The sake menu is the biggest and best in the City, the food is delicious, and the staff will guide you with expert advice. Should you find yourself in Times Square, ditch the Lion King and head over to Sake Bar Hagi (152 West 49th Street, lower level; 212-764-8549) instead. They are open til 3am and offer casual izakaya pub food with an enjoyable sake menu to go with it.

New York really is the city that never sleeps in it's pursuit of sake, so enjoy and of course, Kanpai!

Awesome Tim, thank you! I agree a lot with the texture play of Shirakawago. And in our line-up of Nigori sakes at True Sake we have it placed directly between the fluffy sweet and the whispery dry unfiltered sakes. I get a little layer of coconut that spells amazing food pairings with Thai and spicy Asian cuisine that use a fair bit of coconut in their ingredient profiles. Herewith is my review of the "Bamboo Leaf":

Shirakawago Sansanigori - "Bamboo Leaf" 
Gifu Prefecture.
Junmai Ginjo Nigori.
SMV: +1
Acidity: 1.5
Rice: Hida Homare milled to 55%
This giving Ginjo Nigori is a creamy coconut slide wrapped in a milky mouth with a great finish, fairly non-descript and clean. With a nose of rose pedals and raisins, it has a smooth texture and a silky finish of vanilla, coconut and cream. The viscosity is thin for an unfiltered sake, but the abundance of rice flavorings makes for a clean finish. Think semi-sweet, thin and slippery.
WORD: Coconut.
WINE: Semi-dry whites
BEER: Creamy Ales
FOODS: Spicey Asian fare, fresh tropical fruits, creamy cheeses.
$10/300ml and $22/720ml
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