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Sake Spotlight - Chizuko Niikawa Takes on Daishichi

Sake Discoveries "Sake Spotlight" is a unique section within the Newsletter that takes a closer look at specific sakes that may be purchased at True Sake. I approach different professionals within the industry to give their perspectives and insights to the how, what and why's for very special sakes. These insiders are importers, brewers, authors, sake sommeliers, or just enthusiasts who will take your knowledge base a little further. What I like about this segment is that often my review is quite different than that of the guest professional's adding to the point that there is no right or wrong when discussing your opinion about sake.

Sake Discoveries November's Sake Spotlight features a sake sommelier from NYC in the form of Ms. Chizuko Niikawa, who is a total sake enthusiast - so much so she has turned her passion into a sake business. From her days as a sake sommelier at Sakagura to her new endeavor: which does all things sake, "Chiz" is well-known in the sake industry for her enthusiasm and sake craziness. In a word she is thrilled with sake and likes to thrill others via her business "Sake Discoveries." So here is Chizuko's Spotlight on a brewery that has much lore in the sake world.

Daishichi Sake completely changed my life! This silky and elegant Daishichi Minowamon Junmai Daiginjo was my first "WOW!!" experience at Sakagura restaurant in New York. It was about 6 years ago on my first day as a Sake sommelier at Sakagura. I was very nervous at the time. Sakagura is one of the most famous sake restaurants in U.S. (and probably in the whole world), and carries over 250 sake selections.

Sake Discoveries I just moved to NY from Tokyo right after I got a certification of Kikisake-shi (Sake Service Institute Sake Sommelier Certification) in Tokyo, and my biggest concern at the time was that I had never worked in the sake industry nor in a restaurant. (I was in the fashion industry for over 10 years) Oh, and I couldn't speak English either! However, I got this great job opportunity through my friend who was one of the waiters at Sakagura. Mr. Kadoi, the manager of Sakagura at the time said "Chiz, Starting today you can try all sake in here as a sake sommelier", then I picked Daishichi "Minowamon" from a bar fridge for my first tasting.

I don't know why I picked Minowamon, but I felt something about the bottle calling me. I'll never forget that moment. Right after one sip, all my fears about my work, living in NYC and the past and future of my life.... all fear was gone. I thought that I MUST introduce this Japanese treasure to New Yorkers even if I can't speak English!

After that, Daishichi has been my lucky charm. Maybe Kimoto energy always guides me on a good path! One of the special memories of Daishichi was that Mr. Kadoi got Myoka Rangyoku Grande Cuvée for my last day working at Sakagura. The sake was released 2007 and they only made 732 bottles (released only in Japan).

This is a blend of Junmai Daiginjo shizuku genshu (trickled and undiluted super premium pure rice sake) from the 1988 to 2004 vintages. It was an absolutely super special moment in my life! I'm very proud of my life in sake industry now, and very happy to share my Daishichi story with sake fans in SF. If I hadn't met Daishichi, my life would have been totally different! Thank you Daishichi!

Daishichi Kimoto Umeshu

This umeshu tastes very special too! The great richness and mellowness comes from the Daishichi Kimoto Junmai flavor, but also there is the juicy plum flavors... the balance between the two is a work of art! This umeshu was awarded the gold prize for last 4 years as the best Japanese liqueur at the competition of the Japan Prestige Sake Association.

Thank you "Chiz"! Yes we also love the Daishichi brewery at True Sake and we carry three of their efforts. We carry the Junmai Daiginjo "Minowamon." The Junmai Ginjo "Masakura" and the Kimoto Ume-Shu. And coincidentally enough I took the Junmai Ginjo to an Indonesian restaurant in this month's Sake Challenge, which is the next section.

I have written pretty extensively about the Daishichi in past Newsletter issues - in fact the brewery had me as a guest to do an extensive interview for the extremely popular food and beverage magazine called Dancyu. So I will let you dig around in the archives if you want some more Daishichi stories to go with Chiz's thoughts.

If you would like to contact Chiz for anything sake from branding to planning events, from staff training to connecting new people to sake please try her at info @

Lastly for all of those who have not tried the Minowamon we are currently selling this brew at a huge discount! $20 off!
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