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Ask Beau - "What's your favorite and least favorite book on sake?"

Wow is this a trap or what? David R. from Miami, FL asked a very simple question, "What is your favorite and least favorite book on sake and why?" and my answer could test some friendships. This is actually a very good question for those who like reading about sake. I consider Philip Harper and John Gauntner two very dear friends and we have spoken in length about our book writing experiences and the results. We all have some "giggle" qualities to our efforts. My book has a few mistakes, and my editors made me do things that I really did not want to do. But they called the shots. Same too for Philip and John, who both have some pretty funny hiccups as well. John in particular would like to go back in time as he mentioned to change one of his first efforts.

In this regard, please read anything that both John and Philip have written. They both are great writers and know their sake "stuff." I really wish that Philip would write more about his "stories" as a "foreign" sake brewer. But sadly their efforts do not constitute my favorite book on sake. That title goes to Hiroshi Kondo who wrote "Sake - A Drinker's Guide" by Kodansha International 1984. There are two different copies of this book. One is a regular soft cover sized, and the other is a magazine sized with a soft cover. I have them both and love them! There is a funny forward piece by George Plimpton. It's just a solid read very steeped in tradition with great photos. It is very all encompassing, and deserving of your attention. The problem is the book is out of print, but you can find it on auction sites.

My least favorite book on sake, other than my own! (Joking! - I'm very proud of my book and still feel pretty blessed that it was recommended by the NY Times.) I have some serious reservations about Rocky Aoki's "Sake- Water From Heaven" for several reasons. First and foremost I hold Rocky personally responsible for the lack of sake education in the US during the late 70's and 80's and early 90's. He was in a position to really educate Americans about nihonshu using his restaurant chain as the vehicle way back when. If he had such a passion for sake, which he espouses in his book, he should have written it thirty years ago and not 8 years ago when sake became faddy! He had a perfect platform to inform and enlighten a generation of new sake enthusiasts, and he missed the boat.

His book, with a self-aggrandizing forward by Nobu Matsuhisa, is more a celebration of Rocky than sake. It is also very light in information and heavy in reviews of many sakes. I don't want to sound harsh, but it was not written by a person who has a passion and devotion to sake. So in this light, this book is my least favorite!

Please send your sake specific questions to askbeau2 @ (This address is not for general questions and I only review the questions once per month. All other correspondence should use info @
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