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Sake Spotlight - Maggie Kagu Sniffs Out Poochi-Poochi

sake spotlight april 2009True Sake is very lucky to have what we would call a legend in the sake world to pen this months Sake Spotlight. She is the only 5th degree sake smellier outside of Japan and certified by the Ministry of Sake Excellence and Adherence in Japan. Introducing Maggie Kagu.

She received her Masters degree from Ibarki University in Japan and was one of the primary authors of Techniques of Aroma Construction in Sake Brewing, put out by the Black Lab research facility, Barkley University in Tokyo. It is headed by Dr. Hanna Noana, the number one Sake brewing expert working for the Japanese government. Maggie also writes a monthly column called "Hair of the dog" highlighting rare and little seen aromatic Sake for the Jokagen Times.

In this month's issue Maggie will be sniffing out a fine sparkling sake-Poochi Poochi from Fukishima prefecture.

POOCHI POOCHI "Sound of bubbles popping"

In 1995 the Fukishima Brewing Association approached the Suehiro Brewery to make a sparkling sake. The result was Poochi Poochi. (My favorite name of any sake.) As a side note this is the same brewery that produces Ken Dai Ginjo! The name Poochi Poochi means "the sound of bubbles popping" in Japanese but I secretly think who ever came up with the name must have had a hound at home that gave them the idea. 

Sparkling sake is brewed the same way sake is at the beginning. However, fermentation is stopped early when the alcohol content is between 5 and 10 % and the mash still has copious amounts of sugar. It is then pressed and bottled with a small amount of rice lee. 

Then a second fermentation takes place in the bottle that produces - poochi poochi-or carbonation. 

The Suehiro brewery uses a house kobo (yeast) for this brew and fermentation will last 20 to 25 days. 

Peter BassettI decided to call my friend Peter Bassett who had been itching to try a sparkling sake. He's a newshound from Santa Rosa and was looking for some new pointers on unusual sake. He decided to flea the suburbs for the city, so I picked him up at the Greyhound station. Since it was raining cats and dogs, we decided to grab some dinner at Chow then head over to my place to drink some sake. I put on my three dog night cd and we were ready. 

When we popped open the bottle we immediately heard the Poochi Poochi effect. The bottle nose is a little beer like. Hmmm. Were we barking up the wrong tree? We decide to use Riedel dai ginjo glasses to drink from (because they are so snout friendly.)The glass nose was cream soda, a trait of many sparkling sakes.

Surprisingly, the taste does not come across so sweet. There are very light cream tones with a nice bitter element with a dash more carbonation than most sparkling sake I've had the pleasure of tasting. Although the SMV (Sake Maggie Value) is -20, it does drink somewhat dry and has citrus edge at the finish. Except for the low alcohol content, the flavor profile is very much like a regular fashioned sake. Very nice as an after dinner treat. 

Well we decided to fetch a cab and catch a movie at Timken Hall in the California College of The Arts for the directors cut of The Dog Father with Al Poochino. 

Thanks Beau for the opportunity to be in the sake spotlight. 


Wow Maggie what great read! I bow to your amazing "sense of scent." I have met only one "Smellier" and I proud to call her my friend. You indeed are world class and the Bay Area is extremely fortunate to have you on lead. Keep up the terrific work and get your tail to the store some time soon.

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